Reading_VolunteerMany parents and care-givers choose to send their children to inner-city schools, far from where they actually live, in the hope of them receiving a better education. However, English is usually the language used to teach in these schools, which for most children, is a second language. Larger classes add to the challenges of children whose below the norm literacy levels put them ‘at risk’.


Shine Centres provide individualised support to children in Grades Two and Three (the Shine Literacy Hour) to strengthen their English reading, writing and speaking skills. Children work with trained volunteers once or twice a week, during the school day, for at least one year. A simple assessment at the end of Grade One is used to select the children who will take part in the programme. Further bi-annual assessments enable children’s progress to be carefully tracked.


Shine Centres bring benefits for the whole school, not just for those children who attend the programme. Grade R, One, Two and Three classrooms are also equipped with multi-cultural age-appropriate storybooks to promote a culture of reading throughout the school. Shine also facilitates an annual Family Literacy Workshop at each school which is host to a Shine Centre.



literacy_centre_462x330After many requests from individuals and organisations, we embarked on an exciting journey to find a way to replicate our model, without extensive financial and operational investment. This has resulted in 16 Shine social franchises in three provinces. We call these our ‘Shine Chapters’.


Shine Chapters are social franchises that deliver the Shine Literacy Hour model but are run and funded independently. The Chapter Manager is responsible for recruiting volunteers and ensuring that the programme is delivered according to the Shine model. Shine provides initial training and resources, and ongoing support and monitoring. The Chapters are a smart solution for replicating our essential model, helping us to spread knowledge more widely and to reach far more children than we could on our own.


We are proud to be associated with a formidable network of social franchisees:


  • LifeMatters Foundation in Westlake Primary, Lourier Primary, Sullivan Primary and Steenberg Primary (Western Cape)
  • Common Good Foundation at Kewtown Primary and Kleinberg Primary (Western Cape)
  • Won Life at Trevor Manuel Primary (Western Cape)
  • Enlighten Trust at Lukhanyo Primary (Western Cape)
  • Megan Viljoen at Waterloo Primary (KZN)
  • Joan Conyngham at Clarence Primary (KZN)
  • Anthea Rodseth at Clayton Primary (KZN)
  • Rehana Arumugam at Isipingo Beach Intermediate School (KZN)
  • Saras Klausli and Jackie Steen at Sherwood Primary (KZN)
  • Marcelle Brock and Glenda Brunette at Lower Walmer Primary (PE)
  • Masinyusane at Ben Sinuka Primary and Seyisi Primary (PE)


This innovative model received recognition in 2013 from Impumelelo (Silver Award for Social Innovation) and the 2012 Rising Star Award (Africa-Middle East) from the STARS Foundation.




The Shine Book Buddies model pairs older and younger children in schools together to enhance the reading skills of both. They meet two to three times a week for 15 minutes and do paired and shared reading – methodology also used in all Shine Centres during the Literacy Hour programme. Carefully selected readers (books) are offered in English and/or the mother tongue of the children. This simple, yet highly effective programme, can be facilitated by class teachers, and easily incorporated as a school-led initiative.


Recent research has highlighted the positive, yet unintended benefits that result from this type of initiative, namely: children from different age groups building friendships (which can benefit an entire community); older children having the opportunity to model good behaviour to younger children which can boost their self-esteem; and children are less likely to take part in bullying and they learn to work collaboratively (Boud, 2002; Developmental Studies Center, 1996; Topping et al., 2011; Juyonen & Graham, 2001).


In 2012, Shine introduced a Book Buddies pilot programme at Zenzeleni Waldorf School in Khayelitsha. The school’s Pedagogical Mentor, Belinda Fellion (2014:1), states that, “it [is] clear that the children presently in Class Six who were in Class Four when the reading buddies’ programme began, have made remarkable improvements in their reading levels, well noted by the Federation assessor.” She also noted that positive unintended benefits of the Shine Book Buddies programme were evident, particularly as children came to know their ‘book buddies’. Interest was piqued. Children were now seen reading at break time, some in groups, others happy to read by themselves.


With the success of this pilot, Shine has started two more projects in KZN and the Western Cape.


” . . . enthusiasm, the life blood of learning for children has clearly been enkindled through [this] programme” (Fellion, 2014:2).


We have developed creative ways to enable our programme to be used by others through our comprehensive offering of training workshops. We share our ethos and methodology, enabling interested parties to establish Shine Chapters (social franchises), Reading Clubs, a Shine Book Buddies programme, or to transfer vital skills through Family Literacy Workshops to parents, teachers and community-based organisations, who are then able to effect change.


These workshops take place on a monthly basis, usually on a Tuesday from 11:00am – 3:00pm. Contact Madalitso on 021 762 4320 or for more details. Literacy Hour Training is for anyone who would like to find out more about what Shine does, or who would like to become a volunteer.


We engage regularly with our existing volunteers to deepen, broaden and refresh their knowledge on carefully selected topics. We invite guest speakers to talk about their areas of expertise within the broader education field.


Shine-in-a-box is a workshop for organisations and individuals who wish to start their own literacy centre or reading club. It also helps after-school clubs and community projects strengthen the literacy dimension of their programmes. Participants are introduced to an array of activities and strategies for supporting early language and literacy learning.


Shine’s Family Literacy Workshops seek to equip parents and caregivers with the knowledge and skills to help them better support learning in the home. The workshops build on parents’ existing understanding, helping them to value what they know and to embrace their vital role in their child’s education. Tips, practical ideas and new resources enable parents to develop a repertoire of strategies and tools for helping their children to become successful readers and writers.