The main aim of our Book Club is to improve children’s English literacy levels and foster a love of reading. This project has been taking place at Twabuka Primary School, a rural school located in the Dambwa Forest, on Thursday afternoons since 2012. Over the last 3 years, we have seen attendance grow to over 60 children, and literacy levels are improving as we continue to monitor and improve our programme.
Due to the lack of resources in the schools, especially rural ones, most children struggle with the English language; and are not able to reach good literacy levels. English is the official language of Zambia. Our Book Club provides vital resources and support to the school and encourages children in Grades 5, 6, and 7 to develop their reading and writing skills.
We are currently following the TESSA (Teacher Education in Sub Saharan Africa) literacy syllabus, designed especially for children like the ones we work with here in Zambia.
Last week interns, volunteers and staff delivered the lesson. This week we started the class outside and took the children on a ‘community walk’. As the children observed their surroundings including the school, their village, and the surrounding natural habitat, they wrote down what they had seen. What signs could they see and read in English? What features of the villages, homes and their school could they describe and write down? Back in the classroom everyone participated in writing down everything they had seen on their walk on the blackboard. The spelling of each word and its meaning was correctly noted down as children discussed their community surroundings using the English language.
In delivering literacy support, it is important to establish each child’s reading age so that the level of material is appropriate. As we are at the start of this academic year for the school, we have commenced this process to assess where the children’s current literacy levels are, using standardised assessments. This will help us to not only ensure that the content of what we deliver is matched to ability, but it will also mean we can identify improvements as well as any developmental plateaus in literacy. The growth and effectiveness of our Book Club plays an important role in facilitating rural Zambian children’s engagement with the official language of their country; and is a positive step forwards in participating fully in Zambian life at a personal and professional level.
You could be involved in our Book Club at Twabuka Primary School by joining ALERT as aTeaching in Africa intern.