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How one teacher made a profound impact on 10 learners

In a heart-warming testament to the transformative power of education and community, life skills teacher Rose Nkwane from Retlilepele Primary School in Pretoria has stepped forward to share an extraordinary story of how the Rama Good Breakfast Programme went far beyond teaching children about making better nutritional choices. Instead, it became a catalyst for inspiring confidence and building the self-esteem of young learners.

The Good Breakfast Programme is a comprehensive 21-day behavioural change campaign that targets young children and teaches them about the importance of making better breakfast choices. This engaging programme, designed in collaboration with the Department of Basic Education, imparts essential knowledge about the importance and composition of a nutritious breakfast, and is not only informative but also interactive and fun.

As part of the Rama Good Food Programme, 10 learners at every school are chosen to champion the initiative for the duration of the programme. Nkwane, a dedicated educator with a deep commitment to providing every learner with equal opportunities, decided to do things a little differently from her peers.

She chose to pair five strong learners with five learners facing unique challenges. The result of this thoughtfully curated group of young minds unfolded into a remarkable journey of personal growth and empowerment.

Among the students selected for this unique leadership opportunity were:

1. The Little Girl with a Stammer: This young learner had struggled with a speech impediment, causing her to stammer when speaking. Her challenges extended beyond mere communication; they touched her self-esteem and confidence.

2. The Frequent Absentee: Another young girl with a pattern of frequent absenteeism from school had disrupted her academic progress, which was a source of concern for her teachers.

3. The Learner with Severe Learning Barriers: This student faced significant learning barriers, struggling to read and write. These challenges have hindered his academic development and eroded his self-belief.

4. The Introverted Maths Whizkid: Despite his exceptional mathematical abilities, this young learner was an introvert, often hesitant to share his talents with his peers. His potential remained largely hidden from others.

5. The Poverty-Stricken Child: The fifth student came from a poverty-stricken background, enduring hardships that extended beyond the classroom. The lack of food at home added to the daily challenges he faced.

Nkwane’s vision was clear: Every child deserved an equal chance to shine. By selecting this diverse group of students to lead the programme, she aimed to create an environment where each child could flourish. However, what unfolded surpassed everyone’s – even Nkwane’s – expectations.

The little girl who had been grappling with a stammer began to hold her head high with newfound confidence. The absentee student, once absent at least twice a week, did not miss a single day for the entire duration of the campaign. The learner with severe learning barriers came up with a heartwarming Rama song that expressed his creativity. The introverted math whizkid found his voice and was able to deliver a speech confidently in front of his peers.

The Rama Good Breakfast Programme, designed to teach children about good nutrition, inadvertently became a platform for these young learners to overcome personal challenges, gain confidence and build self-esteem. 

According to Claire Storm, Rama Good Breakfast programme manager, Retlilepele Primary School in Pretoria was just one of 360 Gauteng schools that participated in the programme. “Mrs Nkwane’s extraordinary story exemplifies the profound impact that dedicated educators can have on the lives of their learners. It also showcases how a well thought-out programme can inspire growth, empower young minds, and foster a sense of belonging and equality among children. We are so incredibly humbled to be part of their story.”

In terms of the Rama Good Breakfast Programme, comprehensive pre and post-surveys diligently measured shifts in behaviour. The results were not just encouraging; they were nothing short of remarkable. Rama’s initial goal of reinforcing the importance of a nutritious breakfast and its broader benefits was met.

This heart-warming story, however, stands out as testament to the incredible impact that a collective commitment to nurturing healthier habits can achieve – promising a brighter future for the youth of South Africa.

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