Learning to Read in South Africa

Learning to Read in South Africa using Phonics

Association of Baptists for World Evangelism
www.abwe.org

12 March 2012:

Thank you for this privilege.  I hope to print some sets of books by next week at the latest to run the teacher training.  The teachers and principal are very excited about this opportunity.  We are planning for them and some of the parents in the community to help assemble the books to nurture ownership of the books/program.
 
ABWE (Association of Baptists for World Evangelism) does have some Christian schools around the world but I think they only have one in Cape Town.  The schools I am helping are not ABWE schools or Christian schools but government schools that have been deprived of many resources for many years. 

The school has only a handful of English books, no library, no phonics based books, and a requirement to teach all content areas in English by grade four.  This is typical in south Africa and as you may know, English is the language for all of the universities here.  These classroom sets, with training for the classroom teachers from qualified literacy teachers, will be a huge help.Those who can economically pay school fees, and can find entrance into a traditionally white government school or a private school will receive a relatively good education. 

But if you are in an economically deprived situation, especially during your foundation years, your educational opportunities diminish.  There are numerous outreaches into the schools to help uplift them educationally and over time, I am sure they will improve, but presently, the situation is quite severe. 

There are also many strides in the University system with scholarships available for those who make it that far.  But for those, like the children at John Masiza Primary, just learning to read English is a great challenge because of the lack of training and resources.  I believe Fantastic Phonics will be a huge help in growing strong readers in this community. 

Thank you again for this opportunity.  I will send another email that includes some of the children at John Masiza Primary, they average 42 children per classroom.  Beautiful children as you will see

Penny Hesman,
Association of Baptists for World Evangelism

www.abwe.org

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25 May 2012

Jennifer,

Thank you again for the privilege of using your books for reading literacy in South Africa. It has been exciting to see how the community and churches in Port Elizabeth are coming together to make this a reality.

Through the contributions of numerous people, we have been able to print the over
57,000 pages necessary to make these books. People have come together to help cut, collate, staple, and prepare these books. I did the teacher training this week and the first set of books will be delivered for use on Tuesday.

I will be at the school each morning to help facilitate as teachers implement this program. They are excited and so are we. We will try to document the progress of the children. It should be easy because presently very few of the grade 2 and grade 3 children are reading English at all!

Thank you again for your investment in literacy around the world! I will keep you
updated and will send pictures in the near future.

Regards,
Penny HEASMAN
ABWE US ORGANISATION

 

 

 

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Credits

Early Grade Reading Assessment

(EGRA) Plus: Liberia

Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) Plus: Liberia

EdData II Task Number 6

Contract Number EHC-E-06-04-00004-00

Strategic Objective 3

July 2009

This publication was produced for review by the United States Agency for International Development. It was prepared by the Liberian Ministry of Education, Liberian Education Trust, and RTI International.

  Prepared for  USAID/Liberia and Ministry of Education, Republic of Liberia with partial funding from the Presidential Initiative for Expanding  Education

Prepared by
RTI International
3040 Cornwallis Road
Post Office Box 12194
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-2194

Reading program prepared in Collaboration with
Early Reading.com “Fantastic Phonics”.

RTI International is a trade name of Research Triangle Institute.

This publication is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID.) The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of RTI International and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Acknowledgments

In September 2008, the Liberian Ministry of Education (MOE) organized a week-long workshop during which a draft Scope and Sequence for teaching reading in English for Liberia was started and has now been developed. The MOE representatives and other participants provided the authors with sufficient written material to develop a teacher manual that is custom-made for Liberia. The workshop was funded by the World Bank and facilitated by RTI International and the Liberian Education Trust. The finalization of this teacher manual, the training in the use of the manual, and the overall implementation of the EGRA Plus: Liberia project is made possible by USAID/Liberia, the Presidential Initiative for Expanding Education, and the generous support of the American people.

The EGRA Plus: Liberia Project was requested by the Ministry of Education, and funded by the World Bank between June and September 2008. As of October 2008 and until October 2010, the Project will be funded by USAID/Liberia with partial funding from the Presidential Initiative for Expanding Education.

Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) in Liberia The ability to read and understand a text is the most fundamental skill a child learns. Without literacy there is little chance a child will escape the inter-generational cycle of poverty. Yet, in many countries, students enrolled for as many as four years, are unable to read and understand even simple texts. Psychometric evidence indicates that learning to read both early and at a sufficient rate are essential for learning to read well. Acquiring literacy becomes more difficult as students grow older; children who do not learn to read in the first few grades are more likely to repeat and eventually drop out, or will fall behind others for the rest of their lives, and countries where the population cannot read well will tend to lag behind the more educated countries.

What is EGRA?

Concerned with the state of reading in early grades in developing nations, international agencies decided to fund an early-grade reading assessment (EGRA). Most national and international assessments are paper-and-pencil tests used in grades four and above; they essentially assume students have already master the basics of reading. For the few low-income countries participating in international tests, the median child performs at about the 3rd or 4th percentile of a developed country distribution. From these results it is often difficult to tell whether the most basic skills are absent or present to enable the student to understand the test, or whether the children cannot perform the tasks in the test. EGRA was designed to assess the foundation skills for literacy acquisition in grades 1 through 4 orally, including pre-reading skills such as listening comprehension.

The utility of EGRA (and its ramifications) lies in two areas. First, it highlights reading problems, drawing policy makers’ attention to the issue, and helps teachers track performance. Second, early grade reading is a “leading indicator” for the functioning of a school or school system. If reading is not being taught well in a school or a district, it is a safe bet that other things are not being taught well. Moreover, lack of reading instruction and skill is relatively easy to detect, as opposed to a lack of appropriate instruction and skill in, say, social studies.

EGRA in Liberia

While EGRA started out as a measurement tool, many countries have shown an interest in using it as a springboard to improving reading and teacher training around reading. EGRA Plus: Liberia is a good case. The tool itself will be used to lay a baseline on reading. But the main emphasis of EGRA Plus: Liberia will be to improve student reading skills by implementing evidence-based reading instruction. The tasks and activities that would provide information on causes of poor reading levels similar to the opportunity-to-learn literature will be included. Systematic training, support, and supervision will be provided to teachers, along with toolkits and plenty of reading materials for the students. The project will also include training and collaboration with Ministry of Education staff in areas of early grade assessment, development of skills in early grade reading improvement, and the use of data to drive teaching improvement. The project will work on a pilot basis using a thorough evaluation approach.

EGRA Plus: Liberia began in October 2008 and will end in October 2010. It is implemented by RTI International and Liberian Education Trust, with leadership from the Liberian Ministry of Education. EGRA Plus: Liberia has been funded by the World Bank and USAID/Liberia and the Presidential Initiative for Expanding Education. For further information, contact us at egraplusliberia@gmail.com.

How to Use the EGRA Plus: Liberia Teacher Manual and Other Resources

Teachers in Grades 2 and 3 in participating schools of EGRA Plus: Liberia project will use the following four main sources for teaching reading.

A.        EGRA Plus: Liberia Teacher Manual – Volume 1 + 2

The EGRA Plus: Liberia Teacher Manual – Volume 2 presented here consists of two main parts: (1) overview of Scope and Sequence for teaching reading for a year, and (2) weekly lesson plans with detailed daily sequences and instructions on what to teach that day and how to draw on other resources that have been provided to teachers (e.g., decodable books and supplementary materials).

Finally, the EGRA Plus: Liberia Teacher Manual will include the following teacher resources: pocket charts, letter cards, and flash cards.

B.        Decodable books

The EGRA Plus: Liberia project will provide every child in Grades 2 and 3 in participating schools with a number of decodable books. The books are compiled into three compilations and each compilation provides the weekly schedule for the use of these books. This schedule can be also found in this manual (see “Scope and Sequence”).

C.        Library books

The EGRA Plus: Liberia project will provide Grades 2 and 3 with a sufficient number of books to build small libraries. These books are to be used by students in Grades 2 and 3 for reading at home or during school hours for “independent” reading. Teachers will be provided with ‘reading-at-home’ log of books as well as library logs to keep track of the books’ use.

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