Dis-Chem Foundation Random Act of Kindness: The Phenduka Literacy Project


Preneil Pillay

1064 days ago
Dis-Chem Foundation Random Act of Kindness: The Phenduka Literacy Project

Phenduka is the Zulu word for "turnaround"

Since the year 2000, The Phenduka Literacy Project has been active in Alexandra, one of the poorest townships of South Africa. The project is officially registered as an NGO project, and is recognized as making a contribution to literacy upliftment by the Gauteng Department of Education..

Despite the multitude of NGO projects in South Africa ,there is a lack of good educational systems. Children and young boys and girls attend, under very trying circumstances ,schools that lack teaching quality, equipment and infrastructure.

Result: what they learn there is totally insufficient.

The purpose of the programme is to help improve the teaching and learning of reading and writing in disadvantaged primary schools. Various national and international evaluations of literacy levels in South African schools suggest that only 36% of learners read at the appropriate level. Yet reading skills form the basis of almost all learning. To help children develop their skills, the programme uses the "balanced approach" to literacy learning. This is a carefully modulated mix between a technical phonics approach and a more cultural story-based approach. The Phenduka project faces the following tasks.

  1. to actively improve reading

  2. to develop patterns for teachers enabling them to apply these methods in the classroom and instruct the educators on how to improve reading and writing

  3. to fully integrate remedial children back into their classes by applying this method and ensuring that they participate enthusiastically in the learning process. Their perception of learning is thus radically changed. School becomes "something to look forward to with pleasure and joy".

The unique aspect of the Phenduka Project is that the class as a whole is involved in a dynamic and creative way in the learning process. A specialist staff of 4 attend the classes of up to 35 pupils. Within five to six weeks, children who were not previously able to read are able to catch up with their peers and read stories at various levels, with a degree of fluency. Teachers are also introduced to more effective ways of teaching reading through our teacher workshops in literacy methodology.

Our 947 Crew's Zanele joined the team to find out more about this incredible organisation.

We are a clinic. We are helping these kids to learn to read better, because they cannot read. It is like we are giving them medication here so that they can become better.

Nomi Khumalo, Managing Director

Annually, we help around 204 children; but it could be more. The children that come to us usually have a low self-esteem because they are unable to read. You can see that once they are able to read, their faces light up.

Nomi Khumalo, Managing Director

The Phenduka Literacy Programme is self-financed through contributions of institutional and private donors. The Kaiser Staub Foundation in Winthertur is our invaluable support.

We can count on strong supporters like the Gabriele Foundation, Lugano Switzerland, who has been pivotal in creating our mathematics programme, private citizens and South African companies.

A Foundation was set up in Switzerland by Dr. Alberto Ferrari, attorney in Zurich.


The Dis-chem Foundation stepped in and this is what they the incredible foundation was able to do for the Phenduka Literacy Project.

I heard about this beautiful literacy programme that you are running and I was quite blown away because I feel quite passionately about the children. If you don't have a background, it's hard to make something of themselves.

Sherry Saltzman, Dischem Foundation

Through investigation, we found out that the biggest need was funding. As a result, we have decided to help you with your organisation's rent for a whole year. I believe that it's in excess of R100,000 and we believe that the money yo uwill save can be invested into these children.

Sherry Saltzman, Dischem Foundation

You can listen to the full interview with Ayanda MVP, Nomi and SHerry below.

Thank you once again to the Dis-chem Foundation for their incredible contribution to these amazing projects and organisations in South Africa. Every bit helps to get our country move forward in the right direction.

As a Phenduka Foundation, we are in need our funding and this means so much to us. Education benefits the country and will help us break away from this cycle of poverty.

Nomi Khumalo, Managing Director

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