Solar MP3 players to educate Zambian children

 
$10,234 $7,766
Raised Remaining

More of our Lifeplayers have been distributed in the eastern and southern provinces of Zambia to community schools to listen to the Learning at Taonga Market Grade 1 and Grade 2 lessons.  The feedback is positive from the teaching mentors and pupils alike.

For the first time, teaching mentors are able to schedule classes at times that are convenient and suitable to the children they teach. This is important, particularly in the rainy season when children may not be able to walk to school. With Zambia’s high rate of deforestation, areas now flood more easily, making it very difficult for children to reach their schools.  In addition, small streams may become impassable.  Even young rural children often have household responsibilities like collecting water or firewood, caterpillars for food or tending livestock.  All these will cause a child to miss a class. The Lifeplayer allows the child to listen to a missed lesson.  One teacher, Mr Phiri, remarked how he appreciated being able to listen to the lesson himself first, enabling him to be prepared. 

We are planning another field visit to Zambia in the second half of the year, where we will again visit schools and mentors using the Lifeplayer as a teaching aid.  As always, we have the cooperation of the Zambian Ministry of Education. 

Because our Lifeplayers have been so successful in the Learning at Taonga Market programme, they are also being integrated into a radio-based early childhood development initiative undertaken by the Ministry of Education. This means that young children just starting out at pre-school are able to enjoy listening to voices on the radio, to learn in their own language and to record their own voices. Like Taonga Market, the early childhood programmes are highly interactive and include songs, dance and play. Even young children love hearing themselves on the radio, which the Lifeplayer can capture. Early childhood learning is critical to long-term brain development, and children who have access to these fundamental building blocks are more likely to do well at school. 

We are receiving reports of the value of the Lifeplayer as a wonderful tool for lessons that need to be repeated, particularly for slower learners. That’s the beauty of the Lifeplayer: lessons and songs can be repeated over and over again, something that not even the most patient teacher is willing to do! This is true whether for a pre-school or a primary school learner.

John, a mentor supervisor for Taonga Market, told us that the Lifeplayer is a very helpful tool for teaching mentors who are not formally trained teachers. He tells us that it gives mentors the opportunity to listen to the lessons first and to be prepared, which they really appreciate. 

In addition, Zambia’s Ministry of Education recently presented the long partnership between the Learning at Taonga Market programme and Lifeline Energy this month at an African education conference in Addis Ababa.

Stable, a volunteer teacher, teaching his class
Stable, a volunteer teacher, teaching his class

Taonga Market is Africa’s longest running primary school distance education program.  Lifeline Energy has been involved from the beginning in 2000 and we’re just as enthusiastic now as we were back then.  We continue to witness first hand how much children enjoy learning to radio lessons and how they score up to 10% better than children in government schools.  This is despite not having formal classrooms, books, school supplies, or even chairs to sit on. 

Our Kristine Pearson recently returned from Zambia where she trained Taonga technical staff and teaching mentors in the Southern Province in the use and care of the Lifeplayer MP3.  Some grades of Taonga Market still continue to be broadcast on community radio stations, but often at times not convenient for the young learners, especially during the hottest time of the day.  Throughout the rainy season walking to class on muddy roads is impossible, as is learning outdoors.  The Lifeplayer helps to overcome weather obstacles, in that lessons can be listened to in the mornings when children have more energy and the heat isn’t as oppressive, or when it isn’t raining.

A retired Ministry of Education official who continues to work with Taonga  learners in community schools said, “The Lifeplayer is truly a great device for us.  It makes learning possible any time and if a child misses a class she or he can listen later and make it up.  Children will be less likely to fall behind.”

The Lifeplayer is needed now more than ever.   Stable, a new volunteer teacher (pictured here) remarked that the Lifeplayer would allow him to listen to the lesson first so that he could be prepared. 

Your support is vital to sustaining our ability to provide these rural community schools with the Lifeplayer – a critical teaching tool for mentors and learners alike. 

We’re very pleased to report that the consignment of Lifeplayer MP3s has arrived in Zambia, and is awaiting distribution. Our initial plan was to undertake distribution and training for the teaching mentors involved in late September or early October. However, in discussions with the Zambian Ministry of Education officials, it has been decided to move out the training closer to the end of the school year.  The school year in Zambia starts in mid-January and runs through the first week of December, which gives a long break over the festive season. Moving the training dates is being done for two reasons: first, so that teachers can start afresh in the New Year with recently completed training; and second, to facilitate other teacher training programmes that are planned by the Ministry.

Lifeline Energy supports the Learning at Taonga Market programme in community schools in the Southern and Eastern provinces of Zambia. Our Lifeplayers will be loaded with Taonga Market lessons that cover primarily the foundation grades (Grade 1 and 2) to start, although some schools will include material for higher grades.

 You can be sure that we’ll keep you posted!

We’re excited to be sending a large consignment of Lifeplayer MP3s to support Learning at Taonga Market in Zambia. Through the generosity of GlobalGiving and other donors in both the USA and UK, Lifeline Energy is able to support community schools in the Southern and Eastern provinces. The Lifeplayers will be loaded with Taonga Market lessons mainly covering Grades 1 and 2, the foundation grades. Some schools also want to load Grade 7 as sometimes there are so few children who make it this far, that community schools can’t justify supporting a teacher. The Lifeplayer will enable these children to stay in school, complete Grade 7 and hopefully go onto secondary school.

We will keep you posted on the progress of the initiative throughout the year.

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Organization

Project Leader

Kristine Pearson

Cape Town, Cape South Africa

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