Innovations seek to increase child literacy in developing countries
On October 5 we celebrate World Teachers’ Day to honor the critical contribution teachers make to education and development. This year we highlight pioneering teachers working hand-in-hand with All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD) grantees to pilot innovations seeking to make breakthrough progress in child literacy. Here are their stories…
In Eastern Province, Zambia, Agora Center, together with the Center for the Promotion of Literacy in Sub-Saharan Africa (CAPOLSA) at the University of Zambia, is using a mobile, game-based intervention, GraphoGame™ Teacher Training Service (GG-TTS), to train good practices in teaching local language literacy in fun and innovative ways. GG-TTS provides teachers with key tools and resources to implement the new local language curriculum and also allows them to practice literacy instruction. Upon completion, these teachers receive certification demonstrating they can implement the new National Literacy Framework and are able to use GraphoGame™— available in local language Cinyanja—to identify and support students struggling with basic reading skills.
At Open Learning Exchange’s Ghana Reads project, Asantewa Florence is a lead literacy trainer in Donkorkrom. She shared that previously she and her pupils had very little to do with information and communications technology (ICT) and did not have enough reading materials. The Ghana Reads Project installed and supported School Basic eLearning Libraries (BeLLs) on credit card-sized hard drives called Raspberry Pi, providing students and teachers with access to text, audio and video reading resources. A number of the teachers, like Asantewa, are now lead teachers in their schools, patrons of school reading clubs, and are passing along the ICT skills they learned to their fellow teachers.
A Catholic Relief Services project at the St. Bernadette Resource Center for the Blind in Lesotho, helps teach blind/low vision children with the use of two new technologies: the Mountbatten Pro Brailler (MB Pro) and the Jot-a-Dot. The MB Pro translates braille to text and text to braille, easing the transfer of resources and communication between students and teachers. The Jot-a-Dot provides a portable method for learning braille and prepares students to use larger, more powerful braillers. M’e’ Cecilia, a teacher at the school expressed, “I’m so grateful to Catholic Relief Services for their help and patience in training us to help children learn to read.”
“Without this skill, students will face unemployment, they can’t read directions they’re given, and they will not be treated well as an illiterate person. You’re not able to live a full life, your economic situation suffers, and you’ll always need help from the community. ~Maysoum Ahmed, a teacher at Jandweel Secondary School”
In Jordan, many parents and teachers experience a dearth of fun, engaging and level-appropriate books in Arabic for their children. This led grantee, Little Thinking Minds to create a leveled, comprehensive, interactive, and animated Arabic early grade digital library. Maysoum Ahmed, a teacher at Jandweel Secondary School, said this use of technology increased her student’s engagement in and enjoyment of reading. “Children love to come down to their session. They don’t realize time is passing by while they’re reading,” she explained. She also appreciated how it allowed each student to learn at their own pace and that students received corrective feedback in their private use of the app, removing the fear or embarrassment many experience when making reading or pronunciation mistakes in front of classmates. Maysoum understands how important her role is in teaching literacy. “Without this skill, students will face unemployment, they can’t read directions they’re given, and they will not be treated well as an illiterate person. You’re not able to live a full life, your economic situation suffers, and you’ll always need help from the community.”
ACR GCD appreciates the hard work of the teachers in our project and their willingness and eagerness to be part of these innovation pilots to seek better ways to teach literacy and, ultimately, increase reading outcomes for their students. The work of teachers impacts the future of us all, as they are educating the next generation. We’re delighted and hopeful that the innovations being piloted by our grantees are empowering teachers around the world to do more of what they love: helping students learn.
All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development, a partnership of USAID, World Vision and the Australian Government, is an ongoing series of grant and prize competitions that leverages science and technology to source and disseminate scalable solutions to improve literacy skills of early grade learners in developing countries. To check out more stories about our grantees’ innovations, partnership opportunities, or to participate in future competitions, visit www.AllChildrenReading.org or follow us on Twitter.