The History of MakatonSA

During the 80’s and 90’s Maggi Golding and Christine Koudstaal worked together to try and develop Makaton in South Africa. Christine had visited Linden Bridge School in the UK where Maggi was Principal and was impressed with the language and literacy levels of the learners with autism who were using Makaton.

Christine Koudstaal and Maggi Golding met with Margaret Walker (the founder of Makaton) to discuss how she could support the South African Makaton project. Whilst being sympathetic Margaret Walker felt that the  organisation  could not be seen to be involved in South Africa at that stage due to South Africa’s apartheid policies.  However  she gave informal support to Maggi Golding to continue training. In 2000 Maggi returned to South Africa.

The Makaton Charity UK requires other countries to work with the  organisations  for the deaf and to use the signs of that country. DeafSA gave MakatonSA a positive response and recommended a Sign Advisor, John Gouws, who was able to select appropriate South African signs for the core vocabulary. The South African version of Makaton was  finalised  in 2006. The first training for MakatonSA was at Unica and Vera Schools for learners with autism.

It was very difficult to meet all the requests for training that followed as Maggi was the only licensed Makaton Tutor in South Africa for many years. By 2011 two steering committees had been set up, in Gauteng and the Western Cape. The Steering Committees involve both young and experienced professionals representing different cultures and languages. This is important as English is the first language for only 9.6% of the South African population (the three most widely used languages being Zulu,  Xhosa  and Afrikaans).

Reinette  Lombaard  made an invaluable contribution to the development of MakatonSA by producing the line drawings of the signs and developing a large range of reading resources.

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An important aim of the steering committees was to plan training of South African Makaton Regional Tutors by Makaton Charity. In July 2015  two  Senior Tutors from the UK, Sarah  Norman  and Julie Ford, with input from Maggi and John, delivered Part 1 of the Makaton Regional Tutor Training, an intensive  5 day course. Part 2 of the course was assessed by the beginning of 2016.

This training would not have been made possible without a generous donation from a private benefactor in the UK, sponsorship for  individuals from  Rotary Newlands in Cape Town and the generous response of Toyota who made their wonderful conference facilities in Fourways, Johannesburg, available to us free of charge.

The passion and  enthusiasm  of the participants and the members of the steering committees, plus the development and sales of resources by Reinette  Lombaard  and members, enabled MakatonSA to deliver a  well  organised  training in true South African style! 

The tutors were privileged to have John Gouws facilitating during the tutor training week. John was  the Sign Advisor whose contribution to the development of MakatonSA signs was hugely significant. He also did all the signing for the MakatonSA DVDs. 
His daughter Jacolyn also helped a great deal to fine tune our signs and offered much valuable advice.

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In addition to Maggi, there were now another 11 licensed Regional Tutors to take Makaton to all corners of South Africa. Although Maggi had  single handedly  done all the training in South Africa up till 2016, it is estimated that +- 700 Service Organisations in 3 Provinces had been able to implement Makaton to a greater or lesser degree due to her input.

Maggi’s contribution to MakatonSA is beyond measure. Maggi was awarded an M.B.E. in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list and attended the investiture at Buckingham Palace in June 2016.

Huge thanks are due to Autism South Africa who supported MakatonSA  thoughout  its development, in all manner of administrative, financial and supportive matters.