The seven-year-old boy looks up from the colourful pages in the book and his eyes sparkle with incomparable joy.

“Look!” his eyes reveal.

“I’ve done it! I can read!”

Very few people ever gave the mentally and physically challenged boy a chance to read, but thanks to Dr Rose Botha’s revolutionary Do and Learn programme, he managed it in 15 minutes.

More than 100 of his friends at the special needs Filia School in Goodwood will also benefit from Botha’s programme thanks to the tremendous support from northern suburbs community members.

The 82-year-old Botha organised a gala event at D’Aria Restaurant in Durbanville to raise funds for Filia School so that her reading programme can give hope to those who need it most.

She was not disappointed.

“When I walked into the venue, it felt like a scene from My Fair Lady! It was incredible,” she says.

The principal of the school, Doreen Herbert, was similarly blown away by the support, but she reckons most of the praise should go to Botha for her love, generosity and inspiration.

“For her to arrange all of that and achieve so much as a groundbreaking pioneer is almost impossible to comprehend,” insists Herbert.

Botha’s Do and Learn special education programme, which is available in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa, relies on four basic steps based on integrating phonics: using all the senses, short term memory, long term memory and rote memory (which is achieved through mechanical repetition).

Botha says anyone can learn to read seven sentences in 15 minutes.

She muses: “All the birds with broken wings come to me and then I help them fly again.”

It is, however, not just “broken birds” that will come to rely on her programme, but also young children.

“In today’s world it is essential that children are able to read before they go to school. I always say one should learn to read before you read! I have a learner as young as two and a half years old and she can already read eight sentences!”

This is, however, a unique case and Rose emphasises that children should generally only start to read once they are “well-spoken”.

Different packages address different needs. “The first is for parents teaching their child, then for educators, and lastly for educators who want to teach children in their spare time,” she explains, before adding that even older people who have never learnt to read can use the Do and Learn programme.

“It is my goal to teach everyone in South Africa how to read!” she exclaims.

Judging by the fantastic success of the gala evening and her invigorating approach to teaching learners how to read virtually on a daily basis, then this certainly doesn’t seem beyond her.

“Barriers are there to be overcome!” she concludes.

Herbert says that more than 100 of Filia’s 194 learners will be exposed to Botha’s programme and plans are afoot to eventually include all of them in the near future.

If all the people who will benefit from Botha’s programme were words, then ironically she would have constructed a novel of such beauty by the end of the decade, it couldn’t be described in words.

***DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE AND PHOTO WERE PUBLISHED IN TYGERBURGER, A CAPE TOWN BASED MEDIA24 COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER. NEITHER MAY BE DUPLICATED WITHOUT ACCREDITING THE SOURCE – TYGERBURGER, MEDIA24.***

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