Fight with us illiteracy

In Uganda ( and other developing countries) illiteracy is still a big problem. English is the connecting language and every citizen is supposed to be able to communicate vocally and verbally in English. It is clear that children , that do not go to school will not learn to read usually. But we have experienced that also quite a lot of children that do go to school do not learn to read (probably about 50to 80%). A lot of those children leave the school halfway and will probably never learn to read. These children will never be able to develop themselves further.

What are the reasons ?

The main reasons are:

- In Uganda the average number of children in one classroom is about 100.

This means that it is not possible for teachers to give feedback to the learners on their learning. Feedback is one of the most important conditions for learning.

- Schools in Uganda are very poor and often hardly have any books and other materials, so the only reading children can do is reading words from the blackboard

- Teachers are very central in the learning process; they are talking most of the time and children are only repeating. Because of the number of learners and the lack of materials they hardly can do it much different.

- Learners hardly get the opportunity to practice; also because of the lack of materials

What are we doing about it?

In the last 2 years we have bought, found and  developed materials that:

- Are self-correcting, so learners can use it on their own or in groups without needing the teacher to learn

- Can be used for working in groups so learners can correct each other

- Can be produced very cheaply; only paper and laminating sheets are needed

- Can be produced by teachers themselves

- Are sustainable and can be used over and over again

- Can be used systematicly to teach pupils to read

- Can be used in classrooms with 100 learners or more

- Can be used in a remedial way to help children that do not pick up reading directly

What have we done until now?

We have developed the materials and tried them out in classrooms. We have trained teachers to work with methods, for instance cooperative and activating learning, that can be worked with to use the materials effectively. We have provided the participating schools with laminating-machines and sheets so they can produce their own materials. Two of our employees visit the (15) schools to support them in the production and implementation of the materials

What do we still want to do on the short term?

This winter we will with Ugandan teachers work out the materials further to a systematic approach that can be used in the first three classes of Ugandan primary education. This approach will be connected with the Ugandan curriculum. After that the approach will be tried out systematicly in at least one of the participating schools. During this process the effectiveness of the approach will be measured and the method will be adjusted if needed.

What do we want to achieve on the middle-long term?

Within 3 years we want to achieve that after 3 years of education no child is illiterate anymore in the participating schools

What is our long term goal?

To develop a method that can and will be used to fight illiteracy (and later perhaps innumeracy) in schools all over the world in conditions that are comparable with the situation in Uganda

Is this enough?

A head teacher in Uganda ones told me: If you want to hide a secret in Uganda, you should put it in a book. He meant that there is no reading-culture in Uganda.

Of course it is very difficult to develop a reading culture when there are no books and people can’t read.

Therefore we want to transfer children’s books in English to the schools and support them to make sure that those books are kept and used well. Besides that we want to work on creating an environment inside and outside the schools that supports the development of reading