24 May 2018

Botswana: Reading Initiative Catches Them Young

Maun — In an effort to promote reading, some stakeholders have introduced an initiative dubbed "Using indigenous story book to catch them young" which aims to encourage a reading culture amongst public schools pupils to drive community development in the Ngamiland region.

The initiative, which is sponsored by Community Development Society (CDS) based in the United States (US), is coordinated by Professor Toyin Kolawole from the Okavango Research Institute (ORI) in partnership with the Maun library, Department of Education, Tharientsho Story Tellers, Matlapana Primary School in Maun and parents of selected pupils in the project.

The project commenced in March and its main objective is to introduce indigenous reading literature to primary school pupils in the North West region. It also encourages reading amongst the youngsters to enhance intellectual, civic and socio-cultural development, and also test run a unique out of school reading models and bring to the awareness of community people the innovative activities of CDS.

Project coordinator, Prof. Kolawole explained in an interview that from the onset, the project collaborators identified some impact pathways, which were attainable at the end of the project life.

At the end of the project, pupils are expected to have acquired skills in the use of the library, developed reading and writing skills, be able to review books and write short stories as well as acquire knowledge on socio-cultural issues in relation to environmental protection and civic duties. Lastly, CDS reading clubs would be formed.

Prof. Kolawole said the CDS funded project was conceived as a platform through which some pupils would be engaged in a specialised school and out of school reading and writing activities for a period of 11 months in order to enhance their literacy skills.

Through reading indigenous elementary literature, the project is primarily meant to socialise the youngsters into Batswana culture as it relates to environmental protection and civic responsibilities.

He said the aim was to further advance the objective of government in preserving the protection of the pristine Okavango Delta which was inscribed as the 1 000th World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012.

During the consultation process, it was agreed that the involvement of the public library would add value to the success of the project as pupils would have an opportunity in reading activities within a proper library environment. He said it was also suggested that the involvement of a non-governmental organisation such as Tharientsho Story Tellers, which is engaged in storytelling and publication will also be appropriate to enhance the success of the project.

One of the partners, Bontekanye Botumile of Tharientsho confirmed that the project started well, noting that they had selected 12 Standard 5 pupils from Matlapana Primary School. She explained that the pupils were selected by the school management based on their reading and writing abilities.

Furthermore, she explained that it was not easy to implement the project, but was optimistic that once the pupils get used to it they would achieve the expected results.

Botumile welcomed the project as a development in the right direction, noting that communities had been worried about poor performance in schools and hoped it would make a difference.

Pupils would visit Tharientsho to learn about creative writing, reading and also to interact with the youth at the centre. She wished the project could be extended to other schools with the aim to improve performance in the region.

Source : BOPA

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