An investigation of the use of Asifunde! materials by educators and learners in mother tongue literacy classes in KwaZulu-Natal.
The study investigates the use of the Asifunde! materials by educators and learners in mother tongue literacy classes at two learning sites namely, Msunduzi and uMngeni Municipalities located in KwaZulu-Natal. The study focuses on the ways in which the Asifunde! Materials (learners' workbook, educators guide and easy readers) are used in the classroom. The study contributes to a gap in current literature on the use of materials by adult educators and learners. The study poses one critical question: "How do educators and learners in ABE classes use the Asifunde! materials?" This question is further elaborated into six subquestions: • Do educators mediate the content? If so, how? • How much time do educators spend on each section/page/unit? • To what extent do educators discuss the content and exercises with learners? • What is the learners' response (interest/extent of engagement/amount of discussion and enjoyment)? • How does the level of the material match the learners' needs? • How much communication is there between learners about the content of the material? Asifunde! materials were developed in response to call of the then Minister of Education Kader Asmal for a National Literacy Campaign in 1999. The Asifunde! material is a literacy course developed specifically for adults who have not had educational opportunities in the past. Its emphasis is on reading and writing mother tongue as well as on the implementation of these skills. The study is on literacy and literacy learning, which is understood here as the study of reading and writing processes that learners use as they engage in interpreting text Topics such as: literacy acquisition; purposes of literacy; the role of materials in acquisition of literacy; approaches to teaching reading and writing; and the educator as mediator of learning, are explored in the literature review as they are pertinent to the study. The study revealed that: 1. The use of the learner's book and the educator's guide varies between educators. 2. The educators do not fully understand the educational rationale behind the materials. 3. Learners respond positively to the materials. 4. There is very little use of the easy readers by both the educators and the learners. 5. Learners' learning and progress is largely influenced by the educator's use of the materials. 6. The learners are very excited about learning to read English now that they are competent in reading and writing their mother tongue. The study presents the following recommendations: 1. Training of educators in the use of the material. 2. The revision of the educator's guide to accommodate a range of educators in terms of experience and creativity. 3. Clarification of the focus and purpose of the materials regarding reading and writing. 4. Emphasis on the importance of the easy readers. 5. Inclusion of longer writing exercises towards the end of the book.