Back to School Book Club
October 10 2015

Back to School Book Club

The schools reopened in September after the long school holiday in Zambia.  

At Maunga Basic School where now all Grades 5’s, 6’s and 7’s have access to our Mobile Library the “Bush phone” must be working as almost everyone from these grades came to borrow books this week.  According to our registers, at the moment there are 152 books out and about in Maunga, Natebe and Twabuka, not only for the borrowers to read themselves, but also to be shown and read to siblings and parents. 

Book Club 1

The students of Maunga’s grade 5 have just started to work with the Happy Readers English literacy course.  A very much enjoyed game using action words is “Simon Says”, where the children are told to move in certain ways (jump, sit, run etc.).  The teacher first shows the children a flashcard and tells them the word that’s written on the card.  After some rounds of practising the teacher would not say the word anymore, but still show the flashcard to the children to recognise themselves.  There are many other Pre-reading Flashcard Activities for each Happy Readers Book that teachers and children can play in small groups before starting to read the actual book.  Without actively realising it, the children learn the words during the activity and are later able to recognise them in the Happy Readers Book. Suddenly being able to read a whole book themselves makes their own learning success visible to them, and therefore pushes the children’s self-esteem a lot and motivates them to keep practising.

Book Club 2

Book Club 3

Very motivating for the strongest readers at Twabuka School was the upgrade to Happy Readers Level 2. Having read about Betty Bear, Harry Hippo and Larry Lion this group of Twabuka grade 5-7’s are now getting to know Leonard Leopard and his friends.

Also every week all the groups in all the schools are practising new sounds and blend them into words. Using the ABC- Posters of the Happy Readers Programme for this supports the children’s learning.  Seeing the same pictures and objects on the posters as in the Happy Readers Books makes it easier for the children to memorise the words and therefore the sounds of the different letters. Word games such as tongue twisters and short stories with phonetic words that the children read themselves when the teacher tells the story make the learning of sounds and blending words fun, and therefore easier for the children. 

Book Club 4

About Book Club

English is the official language of both Zambia and Zimbabwe, and without good proficiency in English reading and writing, students will likely be excluded from many aspects of active citizenship, including employment opportunities.   English proficiency also helps students to better understand all their school subjects, and to be able to tackle exams, which are given in English.  In partnership with Coventry University, ALERT has established English literacy programs at weekly Book Clubs to improve children’s English literacy levels and foster a love of reading.  Pupils attending book clubs are tested to establish their current reading age, and then tailored, locally appropriate, assistance is provided to improve literacy using educational materials from AXIS Education, TESSA and Happy Readers.  A library system provides pupils access to a wide-range of reading level appropriate books.

About ALERT Education Centres (AEC)

English literacy courses are one aspect of the work of our ALERT Education Centres.  The AEC operations at Livingstone (Zambia), Victoria Falls and Antelope Park (Zimbabwe) are all aimed at supporting the formal education system by offering extra-curricular activities to enhance student learning, and assisting with access to education for vulnerable students.  Current programs include the provision of classes in conservation education, basic life skills, and English literacy.  In addition, we provide funding to pay the fees of vulnerable students to take part in education from pre-school to university level, and fully funded internship and facilitated research placements for university level students.  Future programmes will incorporate classes in numeracy, health & nutrition, physical education and business studies/entrepreneurship, as well as a variety of vocational training.  The AEC is operated in association with Coventry University (UK), Midlands State University (Zimbabwe) and Copperbelt University (Zambia), and with the assistance of David Brackstone of John Taylor High School (UK).   The first AEC, at Antelope Park, was opened in 2012 by the then Zimbabwe Minister of Education, Mr. David Coltart.

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