Get ready to put sustainable ideas in motion

This year’s Sustainability Week is set to accelerate the total number of sustainability projects, under the theme ‘Get ready to put ideas in motion.’ Thought leaders, policy makers, practitioners and producers within the country and beyond will share their knowledge at Sustainability Week, hosted by alive2green from 23 to 28 June 2015 at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria – undoubtedly a highlight in the annual environmental calendar.

This year’s Sustainability Week programme boasts an impressive 14 seminars which offer excellent opportunities for various stakeholders to share ideas to ultimately improve environmental and economic performance. An exciting addition to the programme, African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum, hosted by the City of Tshwane, will seek to lay the foundation for African cooperation at city level and urban scale. In addition to the extended Green Building and Sustainable Energy programmes, three new seminars on Mining, Manufacturing and Infrastructure have been introduced.

African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum

The African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum will explore various opportunities to address the sustainability imperative arising from the current and numerous challenges African cities face on a daily basis. African cities can reach high levels of quality urban life when supported by appropriate policies, design ingenuity, innovation, technical proficiency, robust implementation mechanisms and adequate infrastructural investments. This will ultimately improve their environmental footprints while reaching highly competitive economic prosperity in the medium to long term. Ensuring that the most rapidly developing cities in the world develop sustainably is arguably the most important objective on the planet.

Green Building Conference

Green Buildings is rapidly becoming the norm for new large building projects. New design strategies, building materials and approaches are contributing to an ever more innovative and rapidly changing environment. This year’s ninth annual Green Building Conference will share the latest thinking, perspectives, case studies and projects as they unfold. Professor Barbara Norman, Chair of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Canberra and Tomohiko Amemiya who worked on the award winning Slum Housing Project, Megacity Skeleton in Jakarta are among the international built environment experts that will share knowledge at this conference.

Water Resource Seminar

Water scarcity is a reality in South Africa and will become ever more apparent as climate change intensifies. Demand and supply-side management are two key strategies in protecting against absolute scarcity. Water efficiency is vital to the sustainability of our water resource on the demand side. On the supply side, it is imperative that issues such as pollution, land-use management, groundwater management, ecological infrastructure and acid mine drainage management are considered. Leading experts will present the latest technologies and best practice at this informative seminar.

Vision Zero Waste Seminar

South Africa is experiencing a waste explosion with landfills overflowing and production and disposal not slowing down. The Vision Zero Waste Seminar will see leading industry, government and related NGO executives, as well as fringe stakeholders, such as the Pickers, report back on actions and initiatives. The session will grapple with strategies and best practice required to achieve a stepped-up level of recycling in the country, with a dual focus on separation at source and profitability for businesses.

Sustainable Energy Seminar

Energy efficiency and renewable energy are converging fast into one bold new field – smart energy. This seminar will explore the idea that every effort should be made to redesign and reconfigure processes to be more energy efficient and reduce peak demand.

Green Business Seminar

Market forces are such a powerful driver of ingenuity and innovation that they have created the modern world with all its wonders, and all its terrors. How do we harness the market to a significantly greater degree to drive South Africa towards a green economy? This is the key question the Green Business Seminar will seek to answer.

Transport and Mobility Seminar

Mobility is a human right, but for most urban-based Africans movement across our cities has become an economic inhibitor. Poor urban planning and rapid urbanisation has resulted in massive pressure on ailing infrastructure.

Transport is a high impact sector, with tail pipe emissions accounting for a high percentage of national GHG emissions per country. The transport sector needs constant maintenance, upgrading, and rolling out of new roads, which ultimately affects communities and the biosphere in profound ways. A key strategy to reduce these impacts is to invest in rail infrastructure and to create the economic conditions to entice appropriate freight to move from truck to rail. Transport networks can also have significant economic benefits. Projects to connect African countries can pave the way for much greater Africa-to-Africa trade, bolstering African industries and creating employment. Regional and international experts will present thought-provoking projects that are leading the change in respect of these considerations.

Food Security Seminar

Political instability, uneven access to resources and funding, poverty, skills shortages, a lack of interest in farming among young rural people, and a changing climate are just some of the complex factors that perpetuate food insecurity among Africans. This seminar invites thought leaders and experts in the field of food security, agriculture and related industries, to share the latest thinking and examples of best practice, presenting the changing face of African agriculture.  Discussions will contribute to the formulation of consensus on the best course for African countries.

Sustainability in Mining Seminar

Mining is South Africa’s most important sector, employing hundreds of thousands of workers. Mining IQ mentions that the mining industry contributes an average of 20% to South Africa’s GDP and boasts a total annual income exceeding R330 billion. Mining and all extractive industries have a heavy impact on communities and the environment, but not all mines are planned, run, and decommissioned in the same manner. This new seminar will bring mining executives and other stakeholders together to share knowledge and best practice approaches to energy and water use, waste generation and reclamation, effluent creation and treatment, transport and social issues. Don’t miss this ground breaking addition to Sustainability Week.

Green Manufacturing and Supply Chain Seminar

Localisation of inputs is critically important for the ongoing development of South Africa’s manufacturing sector. Companies will compare experiences and best practice in finding ways to localise manufacturing along the supply chain, seek out energy, water and waste efficiencies, protect communities and the environment, and compete locally and internationally. This session will invite companies that have chosen this approach and are benefitting commercially as a direct result.

Sustainable Infrastructure Seminar

A sustainable society and economy must rely on infrastructure that supports it. Reducing the environmental impact of the built environment can be advanced through the design, construction and operation of green buildings, but the fundamental key to achieving this is a matter of infrastructure. Similarly, reducing tail pipe emissions in the transport sector can be advanced through fuel efficient logistics and vehicles, but again this is a matter of infrastructure. The same goes for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing demand through efficiency, but the fundamental key to achieving this objective is to ramp up the percentage of renewable generation in the grid, which is a matter of infrastructure.

Other items on the Sustainability Week programme include a Responsible Tourism Dialogue, a panel discussion for Youth and the Green Economy as well as a Green Home Fair with an organic market and household products for green living, scheduled to take place at Brooklyn Mall.

Sustainability Week takes place at the CSIR ICC from 23 to 28 June 2015. For more information on Sustainability Week, visit www.sustainabilityweek.co.za

Mustadafin Foundation holiday intervention programme inspires youth

To combat the concerning drug, alcohol and gangsterism problem affecting youth in Hanover Park and Vygieskraal, Mustadafin Foundation launched a summer holiday intervention programme to help keep youngsters away from these concerning social problems.

Twice a week 20 boys between 12 and 20 years old met at Mustadafin Foundation in Athlone during the summer holidays to learn vital life skills, play educational games and participate in craftwork and sporting activities. Two registered counsellors and four Psychology and Social Work student volunteers facilitated these fun and informative workshops for the youngsters.

Exciting weekend outings were provided as an incentive to participants who were diligent in attending and benefitting from the intervention programme. Among the rewards were horse riding, a day at the municipal swimming pools, a boat ride to Robben Island and a trip to the movies. “My favourite outing was when we went to swim at Sea Point. They taught me how to swim. I feel much more confident and proud of myself,” said one of the participants.

“The boys attending the programme were selected based on their extreme vulnerability during the long summer holidays,” said Ghairunisa Johnstone, Director at Mustadafin Foundation. One of the participants in the programme described the place where he lives: “There is a big problem in my area with drugs like tik, cocaine, weed and heroine. There are a lot of tik addicts and dealers here and people steal to pay for drugs.”

Johnston said that a few of the participants in the programme did not attend school last year. “The programme has given them a new start and they are back in class now. We want to do all we can to protect these teens from a life of drugs and gangsterism,” says Johnstone.

One of the participants reflected on how the programme has helped him personally. “At first I didn’t take note of my responsibilities but I’m much more happy now. I’ve learnt a lot about life and believe in myself more.”

Although the summer holidays are now a distant memory, Mustadafin Foundation is continuing to work with the youngsters and intends to support many more in the same way. Throughout the year counsellors will mentor and counsel the group, giving them valuable life skills, tutor support and reading classes. The youngsters will also participate in art classes and sporting activities including soccer, rugby, horse riding and karate. The Foundation offers them a safe space to grow and be inspired to lead meaningful and successful lives as responsible, confident young men. The ultimate prize of remaining committed to attending the intervention sessions during the school term will be a weekend holiday and leadership camp.

“Many of these boys have few role models in their communities and are easily influenced to join gangs. Some of their family members are drug merchants or gang members. We know that during the holidays they will most likely be exposed to this criminal underworld, but even during term time they need mentorship and support. So far we have seen promising results with the first group,” says Johnstone.

Mustadafin Foundation calls on all Capetonions to help protect youth who are at risk of experimenting with alcohol, drugs and gangsterism. If anyone would like to make financial donations towards the youth at risk intervention programme, they can contact the Foundation on 021-633-0010 or visit at 18 Belgravia Road in Athlone.

For more information on Mustadafin Foundation, visit www.mustadafin.org.za. Join their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MustadafinFoundation

Local Zip Zap Circus performer living his dream in Las Vegas

From small beginnings come great things. Becoming part of Zip Zap has helped local Capetonian, Anele Xhola (above with wife Shannon), develop his talent and live his life-long dream. Xhola has gone from Zip Zap to becoming a successful Rigging Technician for a Cirque Du Soleil show in Las Vegas, and expert in the circus industry.

It all started in September 1998 when 13-year-old Anele Xhola asked his friend, Kagisho Mutlane to take him along to the circus school he had been attending. “The day I walked through those circus doors I knew that I wanted to be a part of the Zip Zap family and that it would take me places,” says Xhola.

For 12 years Xhola was a member of Zip Zap where he learnt to become the circus industry expert he is today. “Zip Zap opened its doors to me and showed me the wonderful world of circus entertainment. In the time I have been part of Zip Zap, I travelled to many places that I never thought I would ever see in my life including Germany, Austria, Netherlands, France, Australia and the USA,” he adds.

Zip Zap is more than just a Circus School; it is a social circus based in Cape Town which aims to inspire young people to ‘dare to dream’ and help build a new culture of peaceful coexistence in South Africa, preparing for employment or further study. Working with a diverse community of children from all backgrounds, Zip Zap helps them build confidence and teaches them responsibility and team work.

When Xhola met a circus volunteer from the USA at Zip Zap in 2007, little did he know that they were to marry one day. Three years later, and after a circus romance, the couple got married. Xhola hung his performing tights after he performed for Cirque Phenix in France along with his wife and three other Zip Zap performers from 2010 to 2011.

Xhola joined the Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas shortly after his final performance and became a successful Rigging Technician with the skills he learned from Zip Zap.

Xhola counts the happy expressions and look of awe on the faces of the audience when he performed as one of the best rewards he could get for being a part of Zip Zap.

He also describes working at a circus in another country as a fantastic opportunity, but not without its challenges. “It’s difficult to make friends, to understand their culture and language, but I face these challenges by adapting to them one step at a time and by teaching my new friends about my proudly South African culture,” says Xhola.

Xhola has big goals for his future in the circus industry. “Now that I know the ins and outs of the circus industry, I would like to become the head of a department or go on tour with the circus. I am also a proud ambassador of Zip Zap and would like to inspire the current students at Zip Zap in any way that I can,” he says.

“We are proud to have played a small role in inspiring Anele to reach for his dream and become independent. Being part of the inspiring Cirque du Soleil crew is the cherry on the top. Zip Zap aims to help locals develop their talents and skills so that they are able to work on an international scale,” explains Laurence Esteve, Co-founder of Zip Zap.

Xhola would like to challenge all youngsters with circus dreams to join Zip Zap. “It is a great opportunity to learn the necessary skills needed to live your dream and become whatever you want to be,” he concludes.

For more information about Zip Zap Circus School, please contact 021 421 8622, email Laurence on laurence@zip-zap.co.za or visit the website www.zip-zap.co.za and find them on Facebook www.facebook.com/zipzapcircus.

About Zip Zap Circus School

Zip Zap Circus is a social circus that was founded in Cape Town in 1992, to inspire young people and help build a new culture of peaceful coexistence in South Africa. Working with a diverse community of children from all backgrounds, Zip Zap helps kids to ‘dare to dream’ and learn to make those dreams a reality. Zip Zap’s programmes are all free to participants, with financial and material support coming from individuals, organisation, corporations and foundations. In South Africa and the world, Zip Zap is recognized across Governments, Ministries of Education, Tourism, Arts & Culture and private societies, as a major contributor to the development within the iconic ‘Mother City’ and providing sustainability of the circus arts in South Africa.

Exciting line-up at Tomorrow’s Leaders Convention 2015

As the esteemed ‘Millennial Generation’ wait to be honoured and rub shoulders with other front-runners at Tomorrow’s Leaders Convention 2015, these young entrepreneurs and attendees can look forward to being motivated by influential speakers that form part of the high profile programme. This year’s line-up is a fusion of entrepreneurs such as Sbusiso ‘DJ Sbu’ Leope, sports personalities like Emily Grey and global reputation ambassadors including Hennie Heymans, Managing Director for DHL Express, South Africa.

Despite the unpredictable and unstable economy in South Africa and globally, more and more young entrepreneurs are emerging and making incredible strides through innovative solution-driven business ventures. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) conducted the world’s largest entrepreneurship study*[1] in 2014 which found that Africa’s boom in youth entrepreneurship is expanding globally. In addition to that, African economies showed the highest ability to perceive and pursue entrepreneurial opportunities with little fear of failure.

An example of such fearless entrepreneurship is one of the nominees from 2014, Daniel Ralefatane from Limpopo who used to work in a bank, who bravely took the leap of faith and started his own business, Tudumo Property Services, following his experience at the Tomorrow’s Leaders Convention. “I attended the Tomorrow’s Leader’s Convention mostly for the political debates, little did I know that the conference was more than just about debates. I came out of the conference a complete different person and I walked out of Emperors Palace with an edge to start a business,” shares Ralefatane, who now has four fulltime and three part time employees.

“Over the past nine years, Tomorrow’s Leaders Convention has successfully brought together young minds with astounding leadership qualities in their respective industries,” says Greg Penfold, Events Division Manager at Cape Media. “This year we are very excited about the ‘Millennial Generation’ and their fresh minds. What better way to celebrate 21 years of democracy than by celebrating leadership brilliance with this generation?”

This year, Tomorrow’s Leaders Convention has taken the speaker’s line-up and kicked it up a notch by including dynamic entrepreneur and social icon Sbu Leope, better known as DJ Sbu, who was once nominated as Forbes Africa person of the Year in 2013 and founder of Leadership 2020 and Sbusiso Leope Education Foundation (SLEF), which is a non-profit organisation that supports the enhancement of education and better pass rates in disadvantaged schools within the Gauteng region.  Leope will take part in the exciting panel discussions as part of the Convention. “I was once a young person and only a few people believed in my potential. So it is critical that we ignite that fire in our future leaders,” says Leope.

Leope continues by saying that now is the time for young leaders to launch their careers because we live in a country full of possibilities. “We must start to build tomorrow’s leaders. I urge everyone to mentor and change the life of just one young person,” appeals Leope.

Other inspirational leaders included on the programme this year are Khaya Dlanga, Braam Malherbe, Pearl Thusi and Vusi Kunene to name a few.

If you are part of this magnificent youth entrepreneurship global boom or know someone that is, nominate them as ‘Tomorrow’s Leader’ on http://tomorrowsleaders.co.za/nominations. You have until 13 March 2015 to submit your nominations.

To find out more about Tomorrow’s Leaders Convention 2015, visit http://tomorrowsleaders.co.za or contact Beverley Stone | +27 (0)21 681 7000 | beverley@capemedia.co.za. Join the Tomorrow’s Leaders discussion on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TomorrowsLeadersConvention and on Twitter https://twitter.com/TLConvention.

[1] The study, titled Youth and Entrepreneurship in Sub-Saharan Africa appeared on the GEM website (http://www.gemconsortium.org/) recently.

Empty bottle refunds: don’t be short-changed

Do you know what refund you are entitled to when returning your empty beverage bottles? Consumers around the country are sometimes being short-changed by certain shop owners when collecting their deposits for the 200ml, 300ml, 500ml returnable glass bottles and 1.5lt returnable plastic bottles. Peninsula Beverage Company (PenBev – local bottler and distributor of The Coca-Cola Company products in the Western and Northern Cape) urges all consumers to be vigilant and make sure they receive the correct deposit for their bottles.

It has been brought to our attention that some shop owners are not giving consumers the full refund for their empty bottles and we urge everyone to know what deposit value they should receive,” said Denise Behrens, Corporate Communications Manager at PenBev.

Behrens said that shop owners were not permitted to adjust the refund prices. “The deposit values for returnable bottles are governed by the Consumer Protection Act and must be paid in full to consumers.  This has been communicated to all retailers who stock returnable products on a number of occasions and is prominently displayed on point of sales in these outlets.” She added that consumers were welcome to return their empty bottles to any store that sells exactly the same product, even if it was not where the bottles were purchased.

Bottles that are returnable and qualify for a deposit refund include 200ml, 300ml and 500ml returnable glass bottles with a refund value of R1.50, and 1.5lt returnable plastic bottles which afford a R3.00 refund.

“We are extremely concerned that some consumers have received as little as R1.00 for returning an empty bottle. This is unacceptable. It starts with raising awareness about the correct refund amount. All our suppliers have been informed and must comply with the legislation. The Consumer Protection Act is in place to ensure consumers are treated fairly and protected from such bad practices,” said Behrens.

Returning an empty bottle for a refund is an easy and beneficial way to preserve the environment because less recyclable bottles end up in landfills. “By bringing in an empty bottle for a refund, consumers are living in a more environmentally sustainable way. Once the bottles have run their course of refill cycles, they are recycled in an environmentally friendly manner,” comments Behrens.

Behrens urges all consumers who wish to return their bottles for refunds, to ensure that the bottles have been well looked after and not used for any other purpose other than storing cool drinks. The better we look after the bottles, the more filling cycles they will have thereby helping to sustain the environment.

For more information about PenBev contact 021-936-5500 or visit www.penbev.co.za. Join PenBev’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PenBev

Be a custodian for a clean South Africa

With the growing need to live sustainably and to look after our beautiful earth, the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA) reminds individuals and corporates dealing with waste on a daily basis, to be at the forefront of waste management issues and regulation by joining a recognised industry body committed to protecting the environment and its people.

The New Year brings many challenges in the waste industry with ongoing legislative and policy shifts that organisations may not be aware of. It is imperative for all corporates dealing with waste to be educated on these regulations so that more sustainable waste management practices can be implemented.

The most recent National Waste Information Baseline Report* indicates that South Africa generated approximately 108 million tonnes of waste in 2011. Municipal waste amounted to 18.5% of all waste ending up at landfill sites. The private and public sector have a major role to play in advancing southern Africa’s waste landscape, especially with dwindling landfill space.

President of the IWMSA, Dr Suzan Oelofse, says that all organisations should know what legislation expects of them when it comes to dealing with waste. “The South African waste sector has many challenges, but corporates and individuals should view waste as a resource. Being associated with an industry body, such as the IWMSA, means that you value the environment and make a concerted effort in advancing and aligning yourself to sustainable waste management practices,” continues Oelofse.

The IWMSA boasts an impressive 39 year track record and is the go-to body for all waste-related issues, technology and best practice. The industry body provides their members with access to the latest waste management technology and skills development courses in order to stay up to speed with the ever-changing industry.

“Having been affiliated with the IWMSA since 1998 when I first became a member, I have always been impressed by the members’ willingness to share information, which I think is the only real way to promote the art and science of waste management in the country.  The IWMSA presents regular networking opportunities where this information sharing happens on many levels, keeping me informed about developments in the industry while at the same time keeping me up to date with continual education requirements,” says Jonathan Shamrock, member of the IWMSA.

Municipalities, national and provincial government, environmental consultants and service providers, contractors, academics and corporates make up the bulk of the IWMSA’s members. “It is vital that members view this commitment as a long-term investment so that we can delve into the challenges and opportunities the waste sector face on a daily basis,” adds Oelofse.

IWMSA members enjoy a number of exclusive benefits, which includes access to accredited and non-accredited waste management training, networking opportunities to keep up to date about latest developments and best practices as well as the ever-changing legislative landscape regulating waste management activities.

The IWMSA’s patron members, who take a dedicated stand for the non-profit organisations’ policies and ideals, are:  600 SA Holdings (Pty) Ltd, Interwaste (Pty) Ltd, Roshcon SOC Limited, TFM Industries (Pty) Ltd, Mercedes-Benz South Africa, UD Trucks Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd,  MAN Truck & Bus (S.A.) (Pty) Ltd, DSW – Cleansing & Solid Waste, Pikitup Johannesburg SOC Limited,  ROSE Foundation, East London Industrial Development Zone, Mpact Plastic Containers (Pty) Ltd, Barloworld Equipment, Sanitech, Talbot Laboratories, Wasteman Holdings (Pty) Ltd, Autocar Trucks (Pty) Ltd, Oilkol (Pty) Ltd, M and L Laboratory Services (Pty) Ltd.

For more information on the IWMSA and how to become a member, visit www.iwmsa.co.za. The IWMSA is also on Twitter (https://twitter.com/IWMSA) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/iwmsa).

* Department of Environmental Affairs (2012). National Waste Information Baseline Report. Department of Environmental Affairs. Pretoria, South Africa.

The dyslexia debate

“There is much debate around dyslexia and whether it is life-long condition that must be diagnosed or a meaningless description used for personal gain that should be discontinued,” says Susan du Plessis, Director of Educational Programs at Edublox. With these two very extreme views on dyslexia, concerned parents may wonder what to do for their child who struggles to read and write. In the midst of the heated dyslexia debate, Edublox reading and learning clinics provide the middle ground; a hopeful solution to help children overcome learning inabilities and to achieve their highest educational potential.

A new academic year is well under way as school children write their first tests, but for parents of children who struggle to read this could be the start of more worries about their child’s educational potential. “Will my child pass this year?” and “Is my child dyslexic?” and “Is dyslexia curable?” are some of the questions plaguing concerned parents.

Reversing letters, by reading or writing the letter ‘b’ instead of ‘d’ for example, is one of many indicators of dyslexia which is broadly accepted as a type of learning difficulty that means reading and spelling are difficult. Although no reliable data is available, dyslexic associations estimate that about 10% of the population are dyslexic, assuming every child receives a decent educational foundation. Generally dyslexia is understood to be a discrepancy between IQ and the ability to read and write.

“The extreme viewpoints about dyslexia are what make it so difficult for parents to know how to best help their child,” says du Plessis. “On the one side of the debate there is the group which believe dyslexia is a condition that cannot be cured, but endured and on the other extreme there are those who say diagnosis of dyslexia is a complete waste of time.”

The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) states that dyslexia “is likely to be present at birth and to be life-long in its effects.”  The association and many others like it recommend taking a dyslexia test – at a cost – and provide advice about how to cope with dyslexia and gain access to the special study allowances and benefits available for diagnosed dyslexics.

Professor Julian Elliott, from Durham University in the United Kingdom and Professor Elena Grigorenko from Yale University in the United States of America take the opposing view – that diagnosis of dyslexia adds little value. In their book, The Dyslexia Debate*, Elliott and Grigorenko write: “Parents are being misled by claims that such [dyslexia] assessments are scientifically rigorous, and that a diagnosis will point to more effective forms of treatment.” Elliott raises concerns about the ever increasing number of people who are diagnosed dyslexic. Dyslexia, according to Elliot, is a term which, “confuses, rather than clarifies, and should be discontinued.” Elliot will present his views at a cognitive education conference in Cape Town in February.

Du Plessis raised concerns about both extreme viewpoints. She cautioned that Elliot’s approach was too radical. “It is unthinkable for parents to be told dyslexia doesn’t exist or that we should stop talking about it. On the other hand paying for a costly diagnosis of dyslexia is not as necessary as sound educational support which should be the first priority for a child with learning problems.”

Edublox do not consider dyslexia to be a life-long condition. “What worries us is that children who are labelled dyslexic are sometimes allowed to give up hope in their potential and this can turn their diagnosis into a crutch or an excuse to stop trying to learn or understand difficult concepts. Sadly, some children have been told that because they are dyslexic they will always struggle to read. This is just not true,” indicates du Plessis.

“We have hundreds of success stories to prove that reading difficulties can be beaten with cognitive training and lots of encouragement. A child should never feel as though they have lost a battle through a dyslexic diagnosis – it is unhelpful to the child, parents and teachers.”

Du Plessis says that a dyslexia test should be a last resort. “At Edublox we take a middle ground approach to the controversy about dyslexia. A diagnosis should only happen when really necessary and must be a temporary measure to help ensure a child can pass the grade.” A child with severe learning problems who is diagnosed dyslexic may benefit from extra time to write a school exam or to have a reader ask test questions orally. “What is much more important is helping a child to master their learning skills so that they are able to realise their educational potential,” adds du Plessis.

Although the debate centres on dyslexia, the ‘learning disabilities’ label is also problematic. “We shouldn’t talk about children with learning disabilities,” said du Plessis. “At Edublox we see potential in each child as we change learning inabilities into learning abilities. With the correct cognitive training and teaching in reading, writing and mathematics children can realise their full educational potential.”

Edublox is a reading and learning clinic with 22 centres across the country. Edublox offers multisensory cognitive training, aimed at developing and automatising the foundational skills of reading, spelling and maths. For more information about Edublox visit www.edublox.co.za.

*Elliot, J. & Grigorenko, E. 2014 The Dyslexia Debate (Cambridge Studies in Cognitive and Perceptual Development) Cambridge University Press: Cambrigde, UK