Maverick Citizen


Clerah Sethole tackles children’s learning difficulties with her ‘Exclusively Inclusive’ model

Clerah Sethole tackles children’s learning difficulties with her ‘Exclusively Inclusive’ model
Clerah Sethole. (Photo: Thom Pierce_The Actionists)

Using a mix of training workshops and curriculum literature Sethole aims to roll out the programme to schools in the community of Mohlakeng in Gauteng. 

The night before her presentation to the funding panel, Clerah Sethole had no idea what she was going to pitch. It was a chance reminder from Facebook, of a post that she had written a year beforehand, that sparked an idea. 

She wrote her speech in 30 minutes and, the next day pitched her idea for “Exclusively Inclusive” to a group of potential funders put together by the Trevor Noah Foundation as the culmination of a four-week changemakers workshop. She received her first instalment of financial backing for the initiative the very next day. 

Exclusively Inclusive aims to provide a curriculum for children with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia that allows them to be better catered for as part of larger classes. Their holistic approach identifies young learners who need help and then trains the teachers in alternative teaching methods that can be used alongside the more traditional methods that do not work for all of the students. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Strategies and life hacks that can help anyone with ADHD, and others who struggle with attention deficit

Not only does Clerah want to provide valuable resources to help young learners who are struggling, but she also wants to educate communities about learning difficulties which are often undiagnosed or not catered for. She cultivates a fully inclusive environment through ongoing dialogue between the parents, children, teachers and community.

Implemented in government schools, the programme also aims to provide support to parents who are frustrated and don’t know what to do. Through education, caregivers develop a deeper understanding of learning difficulties in general as well as the particular challenges their children face. They are encouraged to pass on this information to other parents.

Using a mix of training workshops and curriculum literature Clerah hopes to be able to roll out the programme to schools all around the community of Mohlakeng in Gauteng. 

Digging a little deeper into her own motivation, Clerah identifies her need to help others as a consequence of her childhood, growing up as an only child around domestic violence and crime. Most of her friends had siblings to talk to who helped them navigate the complicated world. Clerah didn’t have that inbuilt support system, so she understands how it feels to not know where to turn when life is tough.

“I love working with children and it breaks my heart to see a child struggling with something that they really want to learn. I want to see every child enjoy going to school and having someone who understands them.”

A young child experiencing learning difficulties often feels confused, misunderstood, anxious and excluded. Falling behind in class, with no hope of catching up, could cause even the most strong-willed child to give up. For someone in this position, practical assistance and compassion may not only help them pass, but it could also restore their faith in themselves. DM

It’s Women’s Month in South Africa and so, throughout August, The Actionists will exclusively be featuring stories of inspiring women who are working to make a positive change in the world around them.

The Actionists was launched in early 2023 by photographer Thom Pierce. It consists of on-the-ground problem solvers, community activists, climate campaigners and human rights defenders who engage in direct action. They are people anyone can turn to in difficult circumstances: a growing community of people who care about the future of South Africa. Through a series of photographic stories, Pierce profiles these people. Through a website, discussion forum and social media, the aim is to provide ways for people to get involved.

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  • Theunis Verster says:

    Thank you Clerah, your selfless efforts will play a vital role in the future of many children. Wish there were fewer talkers and more doers like you.

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