Archive for the ‘community work’ Category
This year, we have started collaborating with the Rhodes University Department of Journalism and Media Studies. Rod Amner is supervising a group of third year students that will do their practical with and about our awarenet programme.
Aim of the course
This course was developed in response to a perceived lack of congruence between the ‘academic’ and ‘vocational’ streams of our undergraduate curriculum. By exploring this relationship between ideas about journalism’s role and the alternative assumptions and practices of various ‘journalisms’, the JDD-CMP course aims to bring together – through critique – the Media Studies and Media Production components of the third year curriculum.
Students will be asked to contribute in some way to the goals of ‘democratisation’ and ‘development’ in Grahamstown, by practicing public/ civic journalism, development journalism, citizens’/participatory journalism or radical journalism. All these approaches are predicated, in one way or another, upon critiques of routinised forms of ‘mainstream’ journalism, and offer diverse ideas and methods for producing ‘better’ – meaning, alternatively, more purposive, civic-minded, principled, engaged, inclusive, bottom-up, exhaustive, systematic, innovative, oppositional, and reflexive – ways of doing news work.
We are very happy about their interest and enthusiasm. Their aim is exactly in line with our ideals and we hope to get the most out of this collaboration by supporting them as best as we can. Their exact project themes and work will be decided on soon, and we will report about the outcome. We are looking forward to a fruitful and fun time together!
Sanele Ntshingana, VSA volunteer and awarenet project coordinator reports about his own project:
“On the 28th of April, Sunday- a group of 7 learners from Mary Waters High School who are currently doing the “Anti-littering Campaign” went to Rhodes University Journalism Department to record an Anti-littering campaign awareness audio clip.
All the 7 hip, fresh and enthusiastic Awarenet learners participated in the recording of the audio clip which will be used for anti-littering awaress. These learners were so excited and they jumped around the Africa Media Matrix studio facilities, full of joy as it was for many of them their first time to be engulfed by microphones in a recording studio.
With the constant practise of the two page anti-littering campaign drama script, the learners showed their perfection abilities as they fluently recorded the script without any hustles, their voices blending very well ending up producing a very good sound- this is plausible.
“It was very worthwhile to spend an hour with the enthusiastic learners on a Sunday than maybe sitting in my room watching a movie or something”
The audio clip will be embedded with “anti-littering awareness campaign” picture that will be taken on Wednesday, 01 May at the Kowie River by Marry Waters High school where Rhodes students in collaboration with awarenet CM Vellem Higher Primary School and Mary Waters High School leaners will clean the local river for awareness to the local Grahamstown community.”
This year, the VSA organised its first awarenet Open Day to present the programme to the community and to attract more teachers from new schools to take part in the programme. Viv Quin organised the event and decided that CM Vellem Higher Primary School would be a good example due to their long participation and reliability, so the Open Day took place in Joza-Grahamstown.
Mrs Quin reports: “I was extremely happy with how the Open Day went. The computer lab at CM Vellem HPS was full, each two children had to share a computer. Teachers and other interested community members arrived from four other schools, namely Fikisolo Primary School, The Seventh Day Adventist School, Samuel Ntsiko Primary School and Archie Mbolekwa School. Once everyone had arrived, Mrs Penney gave an overview of the awarenet platform and programme using the projector. The children then wrote a blog about their schools and received sponsored gifts, such as exam/note pads and pens. The teachers were also very involved assisting the learners as they worked on their blogs.They also made suggestions and offered to help putting new teaching aids onto awarenet. The local newspaper Grocott’s Mail had sent a reporter and will report about the event, soon.”
The next steps are to investigate the new schools computer labs and to organise awarenet access for them. Then, we will give a workshop to train the teachers in awarenet use. We will continue to support them by inviting them to current awarenet projects and to the teachers’ network. We are looking forward to a good cooperation. Please, contact us, if you are a teacher and also interested to take part in the awarenet programme.
The VSA’s community coordinator Terri-Lynn Penney organised a diary drive at the beginning of the year 2013 with the effect that diaries were given to more than 200 awarenet learners. Here is what she says about her intentions:
“At the end of 2012, I realized that some of the learners that I teach awarenet, lack something, as to why they don’t always complete their homework or why homework isn’t written down. Speaking to two teachers at CM Vellem HPS, they mentioned to me that the learners don’t have proper books (diaries) to write their homework down or they simply just can’t afford buying them. And that’s the reason why most of them don’t complete their home work or don’t do homework at all. So after hearing this from the teachers, I decided my first project for 2013 would be to raise as many 2013 diaries as possible. The first thing I did was to ask the teachers and principle to write a motivational letter as to why they feel learners on awarenet each need a diary to write their homework in. The teachers and principles wrote their motivational letter and I then dropped it with businesses/people who I knew would assist me in this matter. I also explained to them why this was such a necessity at the schools were I teach. Well, I got positive feedback the first week of January when Makana Brick donated 200 Diaries towards my Diary Raise 2013 Project. Makana Brick will have their sticker put onto the diary before I hand them out to the learners. 35 Diaries were donated by Ismail Mohammed from the National Arts Festival Office. Thank you so much!”
The diaries went to awarenet users (learners) at CM Vellem Higher Primary School, at Kuhliso Daniels SS and at Ntsika Secondary School. Another 150 diaries will be donated to our awarenet learners by Settlers City Toyota, soon. Thank you everyone for this wonderful cooperation for education and social development!
What all includes a good health? More than 200 learners from more than 5 schools investigated this question and displayed what they found out on awarenet in one big project called The Health Promotion Project during the last 6 months. They were supported by their coordinator Terri-Lynn Penney and a wide range of volunteers, including subject experts, guest educators and community members. Themes ranged from a healthy environment and healthy eating over diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS to peer pressure, depression, anxiety, domestic violence, suicide and different kinds of stress, and also sex and sexuality.
We rate this project as very successful and had very good feed-back from the learners as well as their teachers and the community. Such subjects often get neglected at regular school, so this opportunity was an amazing experience for most of the learners to loose their fear of talking about unusual subjects and getting active.
Another very successful project was the Drama Project with Rosa Anne Brandt that was mentioned in a previous blog. The learners were exploring different games and ideas of Drama working towards creating some scenes, while they were also exploring things that are important to the students. They used Drama as a tool for creativity and communication. Short videos can be watched on awarenet. They give a good impression about how different subjects can be integrated into computer and Internet literacy courses at school.
Thank you Rosa and Terri for a good year of projects for awarenet and its users!
We proudly announce that Grocott’s Online Mail published an article about the work of a community coordinator at the VSA: a day in the life of Terri-Lynn Penney “Bringing computer literacy to the community, one click at a time”.
Terri-Lynn Penney is one of our trustees and a facilitator for the awarenet learning network. She trains learners and teachers in Grahamstown how to use the network. Grocott’s describes very vividly her day-to-day activities, read for yourself!
If you would like to participate in this programme as a user or coordinator of the learning network awarenet, please contact us. We are currently expanding the network to overseas and are always happy about feedback and new ideas to enhance the usability of awarenet.
Three blazers to be worn at choir were handed over yesterday (13/11/12) to three grade 8 learners from CM Vellem Higher Primary School in Grahamstown. This donation was made by the VG High School Representative Council of Learners, and the money was raised during a third term market day. CM Vellem learners are very active awarenet users and the VSA suggested them due to their motivated participitation during awarenet sessions.
VGHS (a former Model C school) and CM Vellem HPS (an underprivileged school) established their good relationship during the past year, in which learners regularly collaborated in projects about different topics, such as music and science. The learners got to know each other in an online space called awarenet and subsequently also met in person, gave presentations to each other, went on outings together and presented to the SciFest audience. This is not just outreach, this relationship is based on mutual learning and interest in each other.
We congratulate all the learners for their motivation to learn and be engaged. The three learners from CM Vellem thanked VGHS for the donation with a song, which was recorded and published on awarenet for all other users to watch, listen and comment.
The awareNet programme combines computer & Internet literacy training with practical projects that are interesting and important to young people. This term, the VSA has focused on life orientation after requests by several teachers and awareNet champions. awareNet users worked on a project called “Health Promotion”, which included information about fitness&health as well as about diseases such as Malaria and Diabetes and others, they blogged about depression and exam stress and they discussed peer pressure, drug abuse, domestic violence and human rights.
Several talks accompanied the project. The VSA contacted a number of experts and asked them to give talks and presentations to the learners during awareNet sessions. Many NGOs and private people responded to our request:
- Jason Lisher (NetCare) – informed about general ambulance duties and first aid (Ntaba Maria SS).
- Melibonga Mbelu and Lionel Blaauw (Grocott’s Mail newspaper sellers) – spoke about their tough backgrounds coming from the township and growing up with alkohol&drugs and explained how they overcame their past by starting to become healthy by running and keeping fit (Mary Waters HS).
- Rooi Rikhotso (VSA volunteer) – talked about depression after he had attended a workshop by SADAG (Ntaba Maria PS, Khuliso Daniel SS, CM Vellem HPS, Nayluza SS).
- Terri Penney (VSA coordinator) – also talked about depression after attending the SADAG workshop (VGHS).
- Andiswa Mpako (FAMSA) – talked to young learners about Sex&Sexuality (Ntaba Maria PS).
All talks were very well attended and received. After every talk, awareNet users blogged about their own experiences or discussed the topic on awareNet, some of them for the first time. We got a lot of positive feedback from learners, teachers and principals. Many speakers want to come back next year and continue to talk at more schools in Grahamstown. Thank you for your involvement. We are looking forward to a good collaboration and more excited learners after the summer holidays!
The VSA was invited to attend the Makana Leadership Forum on Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at the Center for Social Development. The Makana Leadership Forum is an opportunity for leaders in civil society to form a strategic network of support and knowledge to help each other deal with the challenges of running an NGO. Topics of discussions aimed to cover all aspects of running an organisation shared by thought leaders with an in-depth understanding of the NGO landscape.
Speakers were Margie Keeton, former CEO of Tshikululu Social Investments, Pam Picken of Leadership in Development and Carol-Ann Foulis, the Early Childhood Development portfolio manager at DG Murray Trust. Sarah Hanton, who represented the VSA took the chance to network well with other NGOs and access information about grant and funding possibilities. This will be followed up by the VSA now.
The participants of the forum decided to meet on a regular basis now and also invited the VSA to the Literacy Forum, which will take place today.
The VSA intents to enhance its community coordinators’ skills to improve the quality of their work and social impact during awareNet sessions. Recently, Terri-Lynn Penney coordinates a project about life orientation and health promotion, which includes learners from various different schools in Grahamstown. She is assisted by Rooi Rikhotso, our new volunteer. So, we immediately took the offer when two very fitting workshops were offered for free:
- A Support Group Training Workshop, presented by the Department of Social Development and the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), on the 2.10.12 at Noluthando Hall about
- Depression and Anxiety
- Substance Abuse
- How to start a Support Group
- How SADAG can help you with the Support Group.
- Training on the Sexual Offenses Act – proper name Criminal Law (Sexual Offenses and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007. Sgt Gaye Mackenzie (SAPS) was doing a 2-day training on the Sexual Offenses Act (4.-5.10.12). This is the Act which has the new definition of rape etc.
The workshops were mostly attended by social workers in and around Grahamstown that work with these cases on a daily basis. We think it important to be well informed about such matters to be able to talk to learners and pass on the information during our awareNet sessions at the schools. The earlier young people learn about their rights and how to face challenges in life the better they can cope and be prepared for life after school.
A few days ago, Terri and Rooi then spoke to the learners about depression in isiXhosa, since they both speak isiXhosa and English. They also handed out the pamphlets, which they received during the workshops. Subsequently, Rooi and the learners wrote blogs on awareNet about depression and about their own experiences. This is quite remarkable since such themes are often tabu. We are now looking forward to some interesting comments and discussions around these topics.