A former teacher has taken the classroom to the streets of Parkwood in a bid to help hundreds of children - including those who have dropped out of school - to learn how to read properly.
Aletta Frans, 57, began her teaching career more than 20 years ago as a foundation phase onnie.
But after retiring five years ago, Aletta just couldn’t let go of her chalk and blackboard and decided to put her skills to better use by going on a “reading crusade”.
Aletta, who has seven children and six grandchildren, volunteered her time by holding reading classes at Montagu’s Gift Primary and Grassy Park High schools, where a whopping 90 kids attended every day.
This year she decided to take her classroom outside, to a veldjie along Acacia Road in Parkwood, where she puts out school benches and books, donated by schools in the community.
Now more than 100 kids attend her outdoor classroom every day.
The teacher says this is all done to keep kids in her community safe from social ills like gangsterism, drugs, violence and rape.
She says as a child, reading made her very happy, and she wants to teach children that reading can take you into another world without having to leave your home.
In addition, she noticed a lot of children dropping out of school because they were failing.
She believes this is largely due to children not being able to read properly and thus comprehend what they are being taught.
“I approached the principal and asked what is the reason for all the drop-outs,” she says.
“He said the problem is reading.”
Now she teaches kids on the field from Monday to Friday from 2pm to 5pm.
“I decided I am taking the classroom to the streets. I want the whole community’s children to be able to read.”
She believes reading will empower them to make better choices.
“I discovered that those children who left school and became drop-outs, the gangsters were waiting for them with money and a gun,” she adds.
Aletta would like to expand her classes, but needs goods like stationery, refreshments, educational toys, gazebos, books and other equipment.
“I was offered classrooms by school principals and I said ‘no, these children already spend hours at school inside a classroom, let me place them in an environment where it is open and free’,” she adds.
She says up to 100 kids attend the open-air class and for many of them, the food they get there is the only meal they’ll have for that day.
If you would like to assist, call Aletta on 074 334 4920.