South Africa’s literacy rates remain stubbornly low. Many children face multiple deprivations from birth, which directly impact on their ability to learn. These include poor nutrition, disease, violence and abuse and impoverished living conditions.
In South Africa, 29% of Grade Four children are illiterate and 58% cannot read for meaning (Spaull, 2016). International studies show that our results are worse than those even of other low-income African countries. Grade repetition is high during the Foundation Stage, with associated costs for children’s self-esteem and motivation to learn, and for the education system as a whole.
Shine Literacy’s programmes are helping to transform the prospects of some of South Africa’s most vulnerable children by breaking the destructive cycle of poor literacy, low educational attainment, wasted potential and poverty. We do this by providing structured English literacy support to children, providing storybooks and readers and empowering parents and caregivers through Family Literacy Workshops. We work in partnership with like-minded NGO’s, individuals and non-profit organisations (see here) to raise awareness and develop approaches that are appropriate and sustainable.
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In addition to the head office team of nine, we also currently have six Shine Centre Managers and several part-time trainers and field co-ordinators.
Dan Pink, in his book, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”, talks about success in the workplace being based on each team member having Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Founder and Executive Director, Maurita Weissenberg, believes that Shine Literacy’s success can be attributed to each team member being self-motivated, passionate about a shared vision and always willing to learn more.
Founder and Executive Director
Maurita spent the first 25 years of her career as a primary school teacher in South Africa and London, working in both private and state schools. Maurita found that struggling to learn to read was an issue that affected many children, irrespective of their background or schooling. This motivated her to qualify as a remedial teacher in 1994.
As a result of her expertise, Maurita established the first Shine Centre at a primary school in Cape Town in 2000. By 2006, the literacy profile of the school had risen from 50% to 84% for Grade Three children, and from 48% to 78% for Grade Six children. In 2009, four new centres were established and after many enquiries from other individuals and organisations, Shine Literacy researched different models of social franchising. As a result, Shine Literacy now has 19 successful social franchises (Shine Chapters) running in four provinces.
Social Franchise Manager
Programme Manager: Shine Centres
Communications and Donor Co-ordinator
2006 – Maurita Weissenberg finalist in Woman of Worth
2008 – Reconciliation Award from the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation
2010 – Shine was one of 30 finalists selected from 89 countries for the prestigious WISE Awards
2012 – ‘Rising Star’ (Africa-Middle East) Award from the STARS Foundation
2013 – Outstanding Volunteer of the Year from SAIF awarded to Kathryn Torres
2013 – Silver Award from Impumelelo for Social Innovation
Each individual matters
Shine creates an environment which affirms a child’s importance.
Listen with respect and without interruption
The quality of our attention profoundly affects the quality of other people’s thinking.
Treat each other as thinking peers
We learn from one another, regardless of age or qualification.
Ease creates, urgency destroys
An environment that encourages children to work at their own pace facilitates learning.
Practice the art of appreciation
Be generous and genuine with praise and words of encouragement.