Inclusive Literacy boost helps struggling learners in Malawi

Thursday 7 June 2018

One of the prevailing challenges in most primary schools in Malawi is low reading skills among learners. Some learners go up until the fourth grade without knowing how to read. Without basic literacy skills children are unable to learn, and this gives them little chance of succeeding in school and beyond.

One child that struggled greatly is Collins, a 6-year-old boy. Collins goes to one of the Primary schools supported by Save the Children and is in grade one. Collin’s mother is a stay home mom and his father does business of selling French fries. He loves eating pumpkins and playing with is friends. He lives a few yards away from his school.

Regardless of being in school for two terms, his teacher discovered he was unable to achieve basic literacy skills like reading and recognizing alphabet letters. It was such a struggle for him such that at one point, he stopped attending classes for fear of being laughed at by his peers. His teacher noticed this problem and encouraged his parents to continue sending him to school.

A little while later, Collins began attending classes again. While in class, Lucy his teacher would start the class with songs to steer fun among her learners.  Thereafter, she would deliberately write on the chalk board in large letters so that Collins together with the other learners could easily follow along with a pointer when reading – slowly and repeatedly. Gradually, she started teaching him vocabulary. She would let Collins read something of his interest to encourage him.

After Classes, Lucy would take an extra 30 minutes to teach Collins alphabet letter of the alphabet so that would be able to catch up with his friends. Through frequent meetings with Collins’s parents. Lucy encouraged them for the need to teach him at least three words a day at home to enhance his reading skills. To ensure that this was happening, Lucy would give Collins some take home reading materials which he would read to her on the following day. Within three months, Collins started to grow in his confidence. He would make several attempts to answers questions in class unlike before where he would be seen shying away from any class participation.

Collins now loves reading. His teacher boasts that Collins is one of the top learners in her class. Collins in his small voice proudly said “I would like to become a teacher one day.” This is a true testament that with concerted efforts there is hope for our children.

Lucy is one of the teachers that was trained by Save the Children in Inclusive Literacy Boost, an innovative program that aims to improve children’s learning. The Literacy Boost initiative is helping many children like Collins to be able to fully benefit from education.

This initiative also enlists the involvement of parents and other people in the community to support children’s learning through facilitation of after school reading camps.

The initiative is implemented in Zomba District (Southern Malawi) targeting over 235 Community Based Child Care Centers (CBCC); 57 primary schools. The initiative has reached over 10,000 children. Advocacy efforts under the project have led to 60% increase in national budgetary allocation for ECCD interventions.