ZAC has an annual matric intervention programme which assists the four high schools in the communities surrounding ZAC. This programme has assisted with improvements in results but ZAC and the principals both felt there was more that could be done.

It was proposed that a programme be developed to start assisting at foundation phase and a MiniChess programme was selected. The introduction of MiniChess at primary schools is intended to enhance learning and critical thinking.

This programme is intended for Grade R, 1, 2 and 3 learners and is presented as an in class activity. This programme is unique in the sense that it uses chess to train maths and science concepts as well as basic life skills to the young learner in a playful, fun and easy way.

During the first phase, ZAC funded the programme at Grade R level at the 11 primary schools. The programme was then rolled out to Grade 1 learners and will eventually cover the whole foundation phase. Equipment and training is provided to the participating schools and educators including chess sets, magnetic demonstration, learner workbooks, educator aid packs, and giant chess sets for group lessons, group and playground play. Annual replenishment of equipment is budgeted for as equipment inevitably gets broken and lost.

Both educators and trainers are required to keep record of the participating learners’ progress not only with regard to chess but also with regard to overall scholastic performance. These records are submitted to the trust where it is analysed and if necessary interventions can be launched in order to take corrective actions where necessary.

Records are also used to build appropriate statistical data for use by participating universities to study the impact of chess on the scholastic performance of children.