“It is thanks to you that I got my new job and that Vanessa, my 8-year-old daughter, is able to read.”, Mr Bulweya told us recently. Soon he will start a new job teaching lecturers in effective ways to teach literacy. And we’re so proud of the difference CharChar Literacy, with your essential support, has been able to have on his family’s life!
“My daughter attends a school where CharChar has trained and supported the teachers in phonics. Thanks to this, my daughter has learned to read and write in both English and Chichewa at such a young age!
When I asked my wife about how our daughter was able to read so well she told me that it is thanks to Vanessa’s teacher and these new methods. So I decided to go to my daughter’s school and speak to her teacher, Mary. Mary explained how she uses phonics and play based literacy activities to teach literacy. She emphasised the importance of making learning fun for all the children and was kind enough to help me to gain a better understanding of phonics and phonemic awareness. Thanks to Mary’s patience and to the training she had from CharChar, I was able to pass my interview as a Tutor Trainer with flying colours as I had a good working knowledge of phonics!”
The difference your support has made over the last few months
Over the past few months we have seen incredible progress across both Standard 1 and Standard 2 classes! Since the start of the term in April, your support has helped to achieve amazing things at Emmanuel University’s Demonstration School in Lilongwe. In fact, when we shared this video clip, people asked us “Are these really Standard 1 children?” “Really!?” “What school is this?”
Our Literacy Specialist Teachers Thandiwe and Florence have been working hard to provide children with phonics lessons on a daily basis. These usually include playing a literacy based game such as HopScotch, where the children hop along the squares calling out the letter sounds and then 'land' on the whole word and read the word by segmenting and blending the individual sounds. Our teachers aim to make learning fun and memorable for everyone, including the teachers themselves!
These techniques mean we have seen children progress quickly and they now understand letter names and sounds, and can blend sounds to read out simple first words.
Nicky, our Director of Strategy and Programmes, said:
“How can I express my delight with the confidence – already – of the Literacy Specialists and the way they delivered the lesson. Andrew did not need to intervene, he’s doing well in preparing them and then letting them try it for themselves. They did an amazing job, and a lovely follow up small group activity for the learners. What an extraordinary thing to see these young children absorbing information like sponges and already able to decode (join letter sounds to read) three letter CVC words (consonant, vowel, consonant). The first step is done, their little light bulbs are on and shining brightly. These children are on a new path to their education – as long as they stay in school.”
CharChar TV… (not quite) coming soon to a screen near you!
After relocating to Lilongwe, some 400 miles from his home in Blantyre, our Senior Education Officer Andrew Mchisa has been driving forward our programme with incredible enthusiasm and amazing results.
Andrew has started taking a whole school assembly every day to help all children and teachers at the school learn phonics and improve their reading fluency and pronunciation. These lively assemblies are full of songs and activities to support letter sound recognition.
He’s using a ‘CharChar TV’, which he’s created from a cardboard box with a rotating cardboard ‘drum’ inside which allows the teacher to turn the handle and make different words appear on the screen for the children to sound out and read!
Here’s where we need your help. Andrew is currently working with us part time, but we would love to increase his hours to full time. He’s making a huge difference to children’s lives. By making a small donation every month, you could help more children to learn to read and write as expand this vital programme.
Keeping children in school is essential to becoming literate
One of the biggest challenges children face when it comes to improving their literacy is being absent from school. Over the past few months, we’ve seen parents taking extended leave from work and taking children out of school at the same time. In Malawi, only 35% of children complete primary school. The longer they are absent from school, the less likely they are to return at all. Thankfully, most of the children at the school we work with have been coming back. Extended periods of absence mean they are behind their classmates when they return, and it’s difficult for them to catch up. If they don’t catch up it could severely impact their future education.
To tackle this, we’re working hard with parents to ensure they keep their children in school. In the classroom, our Specialist Literacy Teachers help to make sure children can catch up when they need to, and our smaller group sessions mean they have more opportunity to receive closer attention.
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