27 February 2013

Rwanda: Primary Schools Receive Literacy Support Boost

At least 90 primary schools in five districts across the country will next month receive a comprehensive literacy support package for primary one and two.

The package is part of the next phase in the rollout of the USAID-funded Literacy, Language, and Learning (L3) initiative. USAID is running the programme in partnership with the Rwanda Education Board (Reb) to enhance teaching and learning, officials said.

Engaging students with stories, songs, and games will support teaching and learning with technology, Reb said in statement said, adding that the programme aims at enhancing literacy skills both in Kinyarwanda and English.

Dr Joyce Musabe, the head of Curriculum Department at Reb, said reading is essential for further learning.

"Reb and L3 have produced class instructional materials, which are designed to support teachers in effectively building the foundational reading skills that children need," Dr Musabe said.

More so, the package consists of detailed teachers' guides, student reading books, and Interactive Audio Instruction programmes, to guide teachers and students through fun and engaging lessons using songs and games.

The reading 'game'

The P1 and P2 Kinyarwanda package have illustrated storybooks for teachers to read aloud to students. And in these stories there are letters, letter-sound combinations, and other language elements for students to study weekly.

"Stories are enjoyable for children and get them interested in reading. Reading stories also allows children to encounter new language in a meaningful context," Dr Musabe said. "This shows children that reading is purposeful."

This programme emphasises awareness of the different sounds in words as well as the ability to match the sounds to letters or groups of letters.

"A child's awareness of the individual sounds in words is a stronger predictor of long-term reading and spelling success than variables such as intelligence, vocabulary knowledge, and socio-economic status," says Sofia Cozzolino, an L3 English materials developer.

In order to increase the speed at which students can match letters to sounds, lessons will begin with various games, such as Buzz.

When the buzz sounds, the teacher points to a letter, combination of letters, or a commonly-used word written on the board. While playing this game, students must quickly call out their name or the sound they make.

"This game helps children to speedily recognise letters, letter combinations, and words," says L3 Kinyarwanda materials developer Caroline Dusabe.

"Rather than struggling to piece each letter and word together, readers who can quickly recognise letters and words are able to focus on understanding the meaning of what they're reading," she explained.

A comprehensive numeracy support programme will be distributed, and teachers will be trained on the new instructional techniques and the use of the new materials provided.

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