I am a reader

‘I am a reader’ is an exciting new collaboration with our friends at the charity The Book Bus.

This 12-month project has been developed as part of the BGL Legacy Programme, and aims to significantly improve the literacy levels of pupils in Grades 4 and 5 across six primary schools in Zambia.

The project will help equip the schools with skilled staff and resources to provide quality reading instruction to 1,200 learners during the project, and to thousands more learners in the future.

Progress to date

COVID-19 restrictions were eased in September 2021. This meant the project could start in earnest with a number of school visits taking place.

Workshops were held with each Headteacher to discuss the project at their school, and to develop a project plan that would provide optimum support for their teachers and learners.

Baseline surveys were conducted at each school across October and November 2021. This was to help ascertain the current reading levels of learners using the Functional Literacy Assessment Tool (FLAT).

I am a reader project - Reading assessment

Classroom reading sessions also took place. These looked at existing teaching methodology, current use of books, general reading abilities and reading culture.

I am a reader project

Training was delivered to teachers on how to use books as an effective classroom tool to help children transition from learning in local language, to learning in English in Grade 5. This is a key challenge for teachers and learners alike. Providing local language books will help with this.

‘Charlie’ the mobile library visited each school much to the delight of the children. Charlie helps to celebrate how families can enjoy regular story time.

Next steps

The results of the literacy assessments showed that the children’s English reading and writing levels at all the schools were far below standards set by the national curriculum. Only 13% of children assessed from Grade 5 achieved acceptable levels of functional literacy. This is mainly due to learner absenteeism, insufficient reading materials and mismatch between language of instruction and language of play.

There are no quick fixes to some of these issues. However the ‘I am a reader’ project aims to support each school to develop a strategy that will provide gradual and steady progress towards achieving acceptable English literacy levels at all grades.

Activities in the coming months include:

  • Provision of books and creation of library spaces in the schools
  • Training workshops for teachers
  • Regular classroom support from Book Bus Team
  • Parental engagement events
  • End of term standardised literacy assessments

We look forward to sharing more details as the project progresses.

Thank you for your support in #BuildingBrighterFutures for children in Zambia.