Between 2017 and 2018, we partnered with Africa Educational Trust (AET) to implement Yes to Reading, a project aimed to support the education of Maa-speaking children in 14 under-resourced primary schools in Dol Dol, Laikipia County, Kenya. This paper presents our findings.
In Laikipia County only 23% of residents have secondary-level education or higher. In Laikipia North constituency where Dol Dol resides, the rate is the lowest in the whole of Kenya. The local community are mainly Maa-speaking pastoralists whose main economic activity is herding livestock. Their nomadic lifestyle makes it hard for children to attend school as families frequently move in search of pasture for their livestock. In addition, schools in Dol Dol have few book resources beyond curriculum textbooks which are also often limited in number. As a result, illiteracy levels are high. In addition, with few books in school, pupils have no resources to use for assignments or further their knowledge.
The Yes to Reading project aimed to improve learning outcomes of Maa-speaking children by establishing their reading skills in their mother tongue and preparing them for the transition to learn in English (which is a language of instruction in Kenyan schools).
In collaboration with AET, we focussed on four main areas of activity:
Improving access to books in the local language and English at each of the 14 participating primary schools.
Training teachers at each school to manage a school library, use books in class and promote reading.
Promoting reading among the rural communities in Dol Dol to encourage support for reading for information, study and pleasure.
Monitoring, evaluating and reporting on the project activities and outcomes to inform future project development.
Key findings from the Yes to Reading project included
– Pupils’ learning outcomes have improved
Teachers report that pupils are now writing more interesting compositions and have greater confidence reading and speaking in class as they have a broader vocabulary.
– Pupils reading more regularly
The donation of new books has led schools to set up school libraries and implement library lessons and reading periods.
– Books used more frequently in class
Teachers are using new skills gained in the training to use the new books to teach comprehension and other subjects in class.
Esther, 14, in Eastern Uganda doesn’t have any books at home. She wants to become a doctor so that she can treat people in her community. Esther’s school library has helped her with her studies towards her dream as it has a lot of science books.
Our partner Africa Educational Trust (AET) creates education programmes to support adults and children like Esther in conflict-affected areas of Africa. In Uganda, they are working with other organisations to bring recovery and prosperity in eastern and northern regions where poverty and conflict have impacted the quality and accessibility of education. Many schools there are severely under-resourced and AET is working to establish school libraries and train librarians in disadvantaged primary schools. We are proud to support their work, donating brand new books for pupils to enjoy who might not otherwise have anything to read.
Here, young readers in Uganda tell us more about their school libraries:
Florence, 11, goes to her school library at least once a week to borrow a book to read at home. Fruit is her favourite book because it has good pictures and she has also learned a lot about plants from it. The books in her school library have given her the opportunity to learn about things you don’t get in Uganda like snow and dinosaurs. She wants more books to be added to the library’s collection so she can keep learning new things.
Yowana, 11 and Godfrey, 13, joined the Reading Buddies scheme at their school in February and have been reading together twice a week ever since. Every Monday and Thursday they come to their school library at six in the morning to read for an hour before schools starts. The boys have found that by reading together, their reading is improving – they learn new words from each other and are able to help each other with pronunciation. Together, they have developed a real love of reading and they are now encouraging other friends to find reading partners of their own. Both hope to become teachers when they grow up so they can help more children discover the joy of reading.
A librarian in the making
Ten year old Rebecca doesn’t have any books at home. She enjoys reading so much that she helps out in her school library, organising the books and keeping the space clean, so that she can have access to books as much as possible. Her older sister helps her with hard words and combined with the books in her school library, Rebecca’s reading and comprehension is getting better and better.
Many thanks to AET for the opportunity to share these stories and pictures with our supporters.
Our Vision for 2020
As part of our Vision for 2020, we are committed to supporting pupils struggling to learn in under-resourced schools and people affected by conflict. Find out more using the links below.