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Remote schools get much needed support from British Council, 16 September 2014


The British Council in partnership with the Department of Basic Education will be launching the Learn English Audio Project (LEAP) in South Africa at the Augustus Conference Venue, Emperors Palace on the 16th of September 2014.

LEAP (Learn English Audio Project) is a British Council project which seeks to help teachers from remote and under-resourced schools in nine African countries including South Africa, to improve listening and speaking skills in their learners and, have access to quality English learning materials on micro-SD cards delivered via solar powered MP3 players popularly known as ‘Lifeplayers’. The Lifeplayer technology has been developed in South Africa thus ensuring its relevance and long-term sustainability.

Listening and speaking skills are vital for the development of literacy in any language. These skills become even more important in the acquisition of a second language such as English in the South African context where English effectively becomes the medium of instruction from Grade 4 onwards. However, listening and speaking are skills that are often neglected and this where the Learn English Audio Project has the potential to address this skills gap and to help embed the building blocks of early literacy.

The training pack comprises the following: a solar powered MP3 player pre-loaded with over 40 hours of teaching material, teacher guides and lesson plans for Grades R-4, a book with primary songs and stories, and a set of colourful cartoon story posters. Relevant teaching and learning audio material linked to the South African national curriculum and in particular the DBE Rainbow Workbooks has been developed by the British Council and the Department of Basic Education. This material has been uploaded onto the solar powered MP3 players for distribution to selected multi-grade schools in three provinces: the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Kwazulu-Natal. To complement the training package, teachers receive a training video, lesson plans and posters, and an extra SD card containing the all the materials so that they can access the materials on their cell phones, thus facilitating lesson planning at any time and location.

In this first phase of the project, between 19 May and 2 June 2014, a core training team comprising DBE and British Council facilitators trained 320 multi-grade teachers from 150 schools in the following districts: Butterworth, Mt Frere, Uthukela, Khanyokude and Gert Sibande. The teachers from these districts will benefit from face-to-face training in the use of the MP3 player and the accompanying materials.

In another component of the project, the British Council has supplied PRAESA with 150 Life players to promote extra-curricular reading and story-telling in their reading clubs.  PRAESA (the Project for the study of Alternative Education in South Africa), through its national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, Nal’ibali, has supplied stories in several languages to promote a love of reading and stories in all South African languages as, being read to, and hearing stories in your own language, should not be considered a nice, optional extra for children, but rather an essential and powerful part of language learning and literacy development. Along with the players, educators and staff will also be receiving guides from the Nal’ibali campaign on how to run reading-for-enjoyment clubs and a poster of the campaign’s multilingual Children’s Literacy Charter to display in their classrooms. The Charter is a celebration of all the different kinds of literacy experiences children should have to best enable them to learn to read and write and a guide for adults to putting the conditions that support these experiences in place.

The British Council Country Director for South Africa, Colm McGivern said:

“The British Council is delighted to partner with the Department of Basic Education in South Africa on this exciting project to promote quality education through the vital skills of listening and speaking in English and other languages. We are also pleased to be working closely with PRAESA and its Nal’ibali campaign in promote multi-linguilism and sparking children’s potential through stories. And, to further spread the benefit of our MP3 players, we are proudly donating a 'Life Player’ to each of the Nal’ibali reading clubs – 150 clubs across South Africa!”

“The project aims to provide access to high quality teaching and learning training and materials for teachers and learners from the remotest parts of South Africa. By putting in place a rigorous monitoring and evaluation process we will be able to measure the tangible benefits for teachers and learners in a few years.”

‘’Improving literacy skills amongst our learners has been highlighted as one of the major priorities of this current administration and we believe that this project will go a long way in assisting to achieve this goal. It also encompasses the tasks outlined for education in the NDP which talks to forming partnerships to improve education quality and outcomes. The partnership with the British Council is one that as the Department of Basic Education we deeply value and are confident the work we do together for the betterment of education with grow from strength to strength’’ said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga

The Department of Basic Education Deputy Director General for Teacher Development Mr. Themba Kojana and Deputy Director General for Curriculum, Mr. Mathanzima Mweli said:

“The Learn English Audio Project will be a valuable addition to the efforts of the DBE to support teachers in the poorest schools. It provides an innovative approach to providing materials to teachers to improve their subject knowledge in English, and other languages, as well as for learners to access materials.”



PRAESA and Nal’ibali Director Carole Bloch added:

“These ‘Lifeplayers’ will support children's oral and written language learning marvelously. Wherever they are used, in classrooms or reading clubs, listening to well-told stories can provide great pleasure and motivation for children, fostering interest, stretching their imaginations and getting them thinking without even knowing they are learning! Children, and the adults in their company, will be able to hear the same stories told in African languages and English, providing foundational support and enhancement for multilingual learning.

“The educational enrichment for both first and additional language is enormous - expanding knowledge and information and, of course, vocabulary and grammar so valuable for growing young readers and writers.  Over 100 Nal'ibali Reading Clubs are going to benefit from this wonderful initiative of the British Council, and we're really pleased to contribute too by providing some great stories in several languages.” 

The solar powered MP3 players will increase access to quality English learning materials, provide a sustainable energy efficient solution to schools with intermittent or non-existent electricity supplies for listening and speaking activities. Listening and speaking skills of the learners will also be improved and a dependence on teacher centred activity in class will be reduced. Ultimately, this project will have a positive impact on literacy rates and learner retention in schools.




Notes to Editors

1.       The Learn English Audio Project (LEAP) - The Learn English Audio Project (LEAP) is currently being piloted in the following countries in Sub-Saharan Africa: South Africa, Nigeria, Rwanda, Mozambique, Sudan, Tanzania, South Sudan, Senegal and Ethiopia.


The British Council has invested in 7 000 solar powered MP3 players that have been distributed into Sub-Saharan African schools (both primary and secondary). The life players have been distributed to improve learning in English in a ratio of 1 solar powered MP3 player to 1 school; and the impact has been on hundreds of thousands of teachers and students who have interacted with the solar powered MP3 player either in a classroom or a language club.


2.       The British Council is the UK’s international organization for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide. We work in more than 100 countries and our 7000 staff – including 2000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year teaching English, sharing the Arts and in education and society programmes.


We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A publically-funded grant-in-aid provides less than a quarter of our turnover which last year was £781m.  The rest we earn from English teaching, UK exams and services which customers around the world pay for, through education and development contracts and from partnerships with other institutions, brands and companies.  All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and creates prosperity and security for the UK and the countries we work in all around the world.


Connect with British Council South Africa by visiting our website:    


Social Media

Twitter: @zaBritish         Facebook: BritishCouncilSouthAfrica


3.       The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has established a partnership with the British Council to support interventions related to English First Additional Language (EFAL) programmes. Since the implementation of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS), English First Additional Language is being offered as a compulsory subject from Grade 1. This intervention is fundamental in ensuring that non-mother tongue speakers of English will be adequately equipped to make the transition to English as the Language of Learning and Teaching (LoLT) in Grade 4. The British Council has collaborated with the DBE and to date has trained both Foundation and Intermediate Phase Curriculum advisors on the Certificate in Primary English Language Teaching (CiPELT) and has also trained Senior Phase curriculum advisors on the Certificate in Secondary English Language Teaching (CiSELT). Currently Provinces are rolling out the CiPELT and CiSELT programmes to teachers. For more information visit  Facebook: DBE SA   Twitter: DBE_SA


4.       PRAESA (the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa) is an independent research and development unit affiliated to the University of Cape Town. Established in 1992, PRAESA strives to help enable conditions for learning, inside and outside of school, which motivate children and adults to want to read and write – and enable them to actually do so – in African languages and in English. It is responsible for the implementation of the Nal’ibali campaign. For more information visit:

Nal’ibali (isiXhosa for “here’s the story”) is a national reading-for-enjoyment campaign to spark children’s potential through storytelling and reading. Children who are immersed in great and well-told stories –and in languages they understand – become inspired and are motivated to learn to read for themselves. Such personally rewarding learning is a recipe for successful literacy development.


Nal’ibali is driven by PRAESA (the Project for the Study of Alternative Education), Times Media and a growing number of partners. Through sustained mentoring and collaboration with communities, reading clubs, literacy organisations and volunteers of all ages, as well as a vibrant media campaign, Nal’ibali is helping to root a culture of literacy into the fabric of everyday life in South Africa. For more information visit or email

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Written By: Administrator Account
Date Posted: 1/11/2016
Number of Views: 1090

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