The Department of Basic Education is very excited to be launching the Learn English Audio Project (Leap) in partnership with the British council here today.
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, we are pleased that South Africa is now part of this innovative project. It is aimed to improve listening and speaking skills in learners and, ensure 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. This is using technology in an innovative and creative manner.
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 is where the Learn English Audio Project has the potential to address this skills gap and to help embed the building blocks of early literacy.
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.
This collaboration is a continuation of the work undertaken between our two organisations with the declaration signed in January this year which has assisted in creating the necessary capacity in the delivery of EFAL across the school system. It has also assisted in enhancing implementation of the Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development in South Africa which calls for the strengthening of teacher support across the school system.
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 have 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.
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.
Issued by the department of basic education