Helping to Change the Lives of Children in Zimbabwe - the THRASS Synthetic Phonics Programme

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The THRASS synthetic phonics programme has been welcomed as heralding the start of a new era in the teaching of English in Africa and now Zimbabwe is the latest country where THRASS is helping to change children's lives.

A workforce that is literate is vital if our rainbow nation is to grow and prosper. Once THRASS is part of our culture in schools we can look forward to a new era in the teaching of English in Africa.

The THRASS synthetic phonics programme has been welcomed as heralding the start of a new era in the teaching of English in Africa and now Zimbabwe is the latest country where THRASS is helping to change children's lives.

The THRASS (Teaching Handwriting Reading And Spelling Skills) programme, pioneered by British Educational Psychologist Alan Davies, is used in thousands of nurseries, schools, colleges and universities in Africa, the UK, Europe and the Caribbean to help learners of all ages, and is widely acknowledged as having the potential to more than double the normal rate of progress for reading and spelling in English.

Dr Melodie de Jager, author of 'Mind Moves', is one of many professional African commentators who have publicly stated that THRASS is changing the way that English is taught in Africa. She and Dr Jean Place, Principal Tutor, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, agree that THRASS is a revolutionary approach to teaching English that provides learners not just with handwriting, reading and spelling skills but also with valuable life skills training. Dr de Jager says "A workforce that is literate is vital if our rainbow nation is to grow and prosper. Once THRASS is part of our culture in schools we can look forward to a new era in the teaching of English in Africa."

In Zimbabwe, World Links Zimbabwe works with schools, educational institutions and communities with a vision to engage all learners in the appropriate use of technology in learning and development. It is now working with THRASS UK to introduce to three pilot schools the recently launched THRASS SING-A-LONG Family Reading Project that uses 44 songs that parents and others can sing with children to explain the 44 sounds and 120 main spelling choices of English. The songs have really memorable tunes in different musical styles and wonderful imaginative titles such as "The moon fell out of the sky", "A great big gorilla" and "You don't get pandas in Africa".

The schools have received THRASS SING-A-LONG and other THRASS resources through the THRASS Absa TalkTogether Project, part of Absa Bank's MAD (Make a Difference) initiative, and the children and staff will also be receiving training. Eliada Gudza, executive Director of World Links Zimbabwe, is delighted with the support the schools are receiving: "We are very grateful to both THRASS UK and to Absa Bank, and feel very honoured that three of our schools are among the first in the world to receive the brand new SING-A-LONG resources. We feel that this is the start of something really big and see enormous opportunities for further collaboration among schools, teachers and students who are part of the THRASS community in Zimbabwe and South Africa."

It is an indication of the significance of THRASS that in South Africa it is being sponsored by Absa Bank, a member of the Barclays Group, through the THRASS Absa TalkTogether Project launched in July 2007. The project is a unique educational partnership that is aiming to revolutionise the teaching and learning of language in South Africa through partnerships between primary schools, universities and other organizations. To date, over 4,000 teachers and student teachers in South Africa have earned the THRASS Accredited Certificate, with approximately 600 having been sponsored by the THRASS Absa TalkTogether Project. And Absa Bank intends to introduce THRASS to hundreds of schools during 2008 using the SING-A-LONG Resources through the TalkTogether Project.

In Southern Africa the success of THRASS is such that the THRASS Accredited Certificate is already a compulsory module for Foundation Phase student teachers at five universities, including both the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and the University of Pretoria. THRASS is also sponsored in South Africa by Pritt, the art and craft ideas company and one of the major global brands for consumer adhesives.

But it is not just in Zimbabwe that THRASS is set to change lives. It is also about to make a major impact in Namibia, where the Government is now rolling out its programme to introduce THRASS in all schools. Last year 40 education advisers completed their THRASS Accredited Certificate training, with the help of USAID, and they are now about to start a programme of regional training. In addition, THRASS UK is looking to work with the four teacher training colleges in Namibia to provide an opportunity for Foundation Phase student teachers to gain experience in the same way that it is working with teacher training colleges in South Africa.

THRASS is already changing the lives of many African children from a wide range of backgrounds and in all types of schools. With a small amount of additional investment, it has the potential to change the lives of all children in Africa.

The THRASS extensive picture-based training website for schools and parents with easy access to a wide range of resources and support materials is at http://www.thrass.co.uk/teaching.htm
For information about the THRASS SING-A-LONG Family Reading Project, visit http://www.thrass.co.uk/sing-a-long.htm.

For more information about the THRASS Absa TalkTogether Project, visit http://www.talktogether.co.za and http://www.thrass.co.uk/talktogether.htm

For information about World Links Zimbabwe, visit http://www.worldlinks.org.zw

For details of the full range of THRASS resources for parents and schools, visit http://www.thrass.co.uk/resources.htm or (for South Africa and Namibia) http://www.pws.co.za

Issued by: THRASS UK News Media Centre http://www.thrass.co.uk/nm.htm
Mike Meade, Media Director, +44 1829 741413 Mob: +44 7970 151 738
Chris Griffiths, International Development, +30 266 203 1207
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CHRIS GRIFFITHS
THRASS
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