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Safaricom Foundation and Zizi Afrique partner to improve literacy

Over 4,500 learners in grade 3 to 5 have benefitted from The Accelerated Learning Programme which has provided a steady improvement in reading skills in the three counties it has been implemented. The programme which is being implemented by Safaricom Foundation and Zizi Afrique through literacy and numeracy camps, has seen children being able to read and learn basic numeracy, within only 30 days.

The programme being implemented in Bungoma, Turkana and Tana River counties aims to support learners lagging behind to acquire foundational literacy and numeracy skills within a short period of time. Each County has 40 schools participating in the programme.

These new revelations were shared today during a forum at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development where Ministry of Education representatives, implementing partners from the counties, civil society actors and funders met to learn, reflect and share experiences.

The programme that started off in 2018 in 60 schools has expanded to 120 schools in the three counties. Currently, over 9,000 learners are enrolled in the programme, 5,674 in literacy and 3,754 in numeracy. The programme identifies learners who lack foundational literacy and numeracy skills as well as those who, after assessment, cannot read a grade 2 level story.

“As we make strides in our curriculum reform process, we need to plan with the needs of those farthest behind first. A solid foundation gives children a start to learn and raises their confidence to participate during the learning process,” commented, Dr. John Mugo, Executive Director at Zizi Afrique Foundation. “Children like Simiyu, a grade 4 pupil in Bungoma county, could not recognize syllables in Kiswahili at the beginning of the programme. But, within 20 days, the boy could read words without support. After 30 days, Simiyu could fluently and competently read stories in Kiswahili. This has restored his confidence, evident during whole class reading sessions where he volunteers to read aloud to the class. He has also risen as a peer leader, supporting his peers during learning session,” concludes Dr. Mugo..”

The narrative is similar in Tana River and Turkana, with tens of learners acknowledging the turn-around experienced through the programme. This has been made possible through teacher assistants, who are reskilled to equip them with strategies they need to hasten the acquisition of these skills.

Reflecting on the training, Sylvester, a teacher assistant in Turkana notes that the skills he gained have made it easy for him to teach and now enjoys supporting learners who need extra help with basic skills.

“There are many others countrywide who are struggling to read. The programme, has demonstrated that those farthest behind in their literacy and numeracy skills can be supported within a short period of time. The skills they acquire not only raise their confidence among their peers, but also set stage for more participation during learning,” notes Peter Magiri, the County Director of Education, Turkana.

An assessment done in 2018 revealed that most learners in Bungoma, Turkana and Tana River continued to fall behind their grade level expectations. The assessment showed that of all grades 3-8 learners assessed, only 3 out of 5 could read a grade 2 level text in Kiswahili. Half of the children in grade 5 could not read a similar level text in English

“One of our focus areas as a foundation is to improve literacy and numeracy among children, provide relevant learning materials and improve learning spaces. From the research we had seen, the low levels of learning pointed out the need to refocus our attention not only in learning, but most importantly, a focus on the basics, to equip our learners with foundational competencies that help them start the journey of independent learning,” said Fawzia Ali, Trustee, Safaricom Foundation.                                             

The program is implemented through county-based partners, CREADIS, SAPCONE and Maridhiano in Bungoma, Turkana and Tana River counties respectively. Teacher assistants undergo a retooling process to equip them with strategies that facilitate learning in an interactive and friendly environment.

Beyond the focus counties, Zizi has partnered with other organizations, and pilots of similar work have been conducted in Samburu, Migori, Marsabit, Kajiado and Nairobi counties.

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