Zimbabwe Government Gives Go-Ahead for British Couple to Extend Innovative SING-A-LONG Programme

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SING-A-LONG is part of the highly successful THRASS synthetic phonics programme that is used in many thousands of schools and has been welcomed as heralding the start of a new era in the teaching of English in Africa. And now the Government of Zimbabwe has given the go-ahead for a British couple from Cheshire to extend the use of this innovative programme in schools in Zimbabwe.

bring new life into the teaching practice of every teacher

SING-A-LONG is part of the highly successful THRASS synthetic phonics programme that is used in many thousands of schools and has been welcomed as heralding the start of a new era in the teaching of English in Africa. And now the Government of Zimbabwe has given the go-ahead for a British couple from Cheshire to extend the use of this innovative programme in schools in Zimbabwe.

Alan and Hilary Davies have already used the innovative SING-A-LONG resources to introduce the THRASS (Teaching Handwriting Reading And Spelling Skills) phonics programme into five pilot schools in and around Harare. The teachers and children really love SING-A-LONG and THRASS, and much has already been achieved, even with the minimum of resources. And as the word about it has spread, more and more schools want to be involved.

Alan and Hilary therefore now want to build on what is good by funding training for teachers at the pilot schools and extending the programme to more schools. They are delighted that the Zimbabwe Government has just given formal approval for this and that officers from the Educational Services Division will also be attending the training, as the Government sees THRASS as "a worthwhile innovation that should be pursued with a view to rolling it out for the benefit of all schools in the country".

The resources in the pilot schools were provided through the THRASS Absa TalkTogether Project, part of South African Absa Bank's Make a Difference initiative. Alan and Hilary are looking for funding from national and international agencies for additional resources for the pilot schools, and for training and resources for other schools. They also want to improve access to computers in Zimbabwe schools, so that more pupils and teachers can benefit from the SING-A-LONG Interactive Book and other THRASS software, including interactive English and Shona Calendar Charts that help children with early language learning.

Eliada Gudza, Executive Director of World Links Zimbabwe, an organisation that works with schools to improve teaching through the use of technology, and who has been overseeing the introduction of THRASS in the pilot schools, believes that THRASS stands out as one of the technologies that could make a huge difference to the teaching of English in Zimbabwe and "bring new life into the teaching practice of every teacher".

The Swiss-based Solon Foundation has been working with schools in Zimbabwe and has already expressed an interest in providing some funding to give primary schools the opportunity to use THRASS. The Foundation is also interested in helping to set up one of the pilot schools as a THRASS Centre of Excellence, to act as a focus for further training for the other pilot schools and for new schools, including other Centres of Excellence.

The THRASS SING-A-LONG resources are real fun, they give everyone a lift and really motivate children to learn. They include the most fantastic interactive software and are considered to be the best way of introducing THRASS into schools. They use 44 songs that teachers and parents can sing with children to explain the 44 sounds and 120 main spelling choices of English, and the songs have really memorable tunes in different musical styles and dance rhythms from around the world such as African Round, Charleston, Hard Rock, Hawaiian, Irish Dance, Jazz, Ragtime, Reggae, Twist and Waltz. The songs have wonderful imaginative titles such as "The moon fell out of the sky", "A great big gorilla" and "You don't get pandas in Africa". Singing can benefit children in all sorts of different ways: it's good for their physical health and also for their emotional well-being, as it can help them express their emotions, and increase their confidence and communication skills. It has also been shown to accelerate learning and improve memory.

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, a unique educational partnership that is aiming to revolutionise the teaching and learning of language through partnerships between primary schools, universities and other organisations. To date, over 5,000 teachers and student teachers have earned the THRASS Accredited Certificate, which is already a compulsory module for Foundation Phase student teachers at six universities, with 1,000 of these having been sponsored by the TalkTogether Project.

Absa Bank and Pritt (Henkel Pritt, the German company that invented the first glue stick) are also principal sponsors of the THRASS SING-A-LONG Family Reading Project in South Africa. As part of the project, hundreds of student teachers this year have attended fun-filled workshops led by Janine Plunkett, the South African author who wrote the words and music for the SING-A-LONG songs.

Elsewhere in Africa, the Nigerian Government has approved the introduction of THRASS in the Oyo State. Alan and Hilary Davies are funding this pilot project and the State Government has already expressed a wish to expand the number of schools and teachers taking part. And in Namibia, the Government is rolling out its programme to introduce THRASS in all schools.

Alan and Hilary would like to hear from other potential national and international sponsors who would like to play a part in this exciting project in Zimbabwe. As Alan Davies said, "We have already seen what can be achieved with so little. With more investment, I really do believe that we can build on what is good and help Zimbabwe to achieve something that is truly excellent."

To see what can be achieved using SING-A-LONG and THRASS resources, view the videostreams on http://www.thrass.co.uk/holyrosary_limpopo.htm (South Africa), http://www.thrass.co.uk/wps08.htm (UK) and http://www.thrass.co.uk/zimbabwe0309.htm (Zimbabwe).

For information about THRASS SING-A-LONG, including a demo of the interactive book, visit http://www.thrass.co.uk/sing-a-long.htm

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

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 or +44 151 324 5366

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THRASS
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