March 10 2015
It has been a busy few weeks at Book Club; we have been working our way through the TESSA syllabus, which is designed to improve English literacy levels for children in Sub-Saharan Africa.
On Thursday, the 19th of February, a team of five, comprising three research interns, a volunteer, and a staff member, travelled through to Twabuka to conduct the weekly Book Club session at the Primary School there. The session commenced with the usual spelling test. The children are visibly improving at this, with the majority of the class doing well. Those who struggle are given additional assistance by our team to support their development.
Following this, our team delivered a lesson on the Baobab tree that included a discussion of its life cycle, how it is pollinated by bats, and how long it can live. The team went on to teach the children how paper, ropes, medicine, and mats are just some of the many uses of the tree. Each of these activities engaged the children in conversing, reading and writing in English, which is important in what we are striving to achieve.
We continue to assess the improvement of the children’s reading ages so that we can tailor lessons for each child’s ability, with a view to developing that ability over time. To determine this, we train our interns and volunteers in conducting standard reading age assessments. With the interest in the community growing, the size of our Book Club increases each week, and so at every session this assessment needs to be conducted for all newcomers.
Our library in a suitcase is wheeled out every week, and this week was no exception. Book Club ended with an exchange of books as children swapped those that they had already read for new ones. At this point of Book Club, the delight in the children’s eyes is immensely gratifying and tremendously humbling. We see the children incredibly excited about something that we take for granted and we are reminded of the difference that we can make in their lives through the simplest of means: providing more resources.
We continue to fundraise in order to be able to provide culturally appropriate reading materials for the schools that we work with. The Happy Readers materials have been created in Zimbabwe and offer a complete programme to help children master the English language in their reading, writing and speech. To further assist our current Book Club members, and to be able to extend the help that we offer to other schools in the region, we actively seek assistance with fundraising for these materials. If you are able and willing to contribute towards the cost of these materials, it would take our team a huge step forward in being able to support these children and the schools we work with. To make your contribution, click here.