As the year draws to an uncertain close, we have some good news to share. In the latter half of 2021 bua-lit initiated its first materials development project. iSayensi Yethu is a project conceptualised and produced by bua-lit members and affiliates along with new collaborators.

Funded by VLIR-UOS, the pilot project will produce bilingual isiXhosa/English materials for the first topic in the Grade 4 Natural Science curriculum: Living and non-living things. The aim of these bilingual materials is to enable learners to learn Science bilingually in isiXhosa and English. African language speakers have reflected on the shift to English medium of instruction in Grade 4 as ‘traumatic’ (see also our position paper, here). iSayensi Yethu hopes to provide a different experience for 9/10-year-olds.

The bilingual materials aim to support strategic and dynamic bilingual Science teaching in the Intermediate Phase. Both the more familiar language of the child and English are used together as meaning-making tools to explore our world. Teachers are already very skilled in using at least two languages orally in their teaching. iSayensi Yethu takes this further by providing texts and activities aligned to the CAPS curriculum in isiXhosa and English.

Both languages are used on each page, sometimes separately, sometimes mixed in ways which are familiar to bilingual children. In the likely event that we face school closures or rotational teaching again in 2022, these materials will be more accessible than English-only texts for Grade 4s who need to learn at home.

The pilot materials will be trialled in two primary schools in Cape Town early in 2022. We will be working closely with teachers and curriculum advisers in the design process.

Watch this space within our new ‘projects’ tab to track the progress of iSayensi Yethu.

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