Recently in Reading Programs Category

L'initiative "École et langues nationales" (ELAN), un programme d'enseignement du français conçu par l'Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF), entre dans une phase de déploiement, a annoncé l'organisation jeudi 8 septembre à Paris. C'est pour mieux promouvoir le français que l'Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF) a décidé de s'appuyer dorénavant sur les langues nationales des pays où elle s'investit.
Six nouveaux pays d'Afrique subsaharienne francophone rejoignent le programme - le Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Mali, Niger, RDC et Sénégal - rejoignent le Bénin, Haïti, le Burundi et Madagascar, pays pionniers du programme ELAN.
Sur les 4,5 millions d'euros alloués au programme ELAN pour les trois prochaines années, 350 000 euros seront affectés à chaque pays. Un budget réparti principalement entre les frais de fonctionnement (mieux équiper les classes d'écoles) et de recrutement (renforcer les équipes de formation sur place).

Obama family in S Africa.jpg

Off to Senegal

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Emilie is off to Senegal to attend a multi-country Peace Corps conference on better practices.  She'll be talking about FAVL's work in Burkina and Ghana and showing off some of our local language books.  She'll also be talking about enriched porridge for malnourished children.  I personally don't quite see the connection, but... there you go.

Michael and the students of the Reading West Africa program are also off tomorrow for the students' last trip to village, so I'll be holding down the fort here in Ouaga until Elisee gets back from his trip to visit libraries in Ghana. 


Books in Ethiopia

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ethiopia books small 1.JPGethiopia books small 2.JPGFormer RWA participant Meghan O'Connell spent summer 2010 in Addis Ababa, and was on the lookout for photo ops dealing with books... Here's two shots.  She writes:

Amharic books were very available in stores in Addis Ababa, on the street, and even in smaller markets outside the city. In the last few years, the demand for English language programs and higher education has risen dramatically, so an interesting market has emerged to meet these education based needs. Unfortunately, most of these programs are considered fraudulent. The many international organizations in Addis are by far the most generous employers in the country and they all demand English fluency and education in their employees, no doubt fueling the demand for these programs.

UgCLA Workshop

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UgCLA (the Uganda Community Libraries Association) held its sixth workshop from July 11-13 this year (see the pictures below). The workshop was funded largely by Pockets of Change, as part of its support for our Children's Book Project, and  Hawk Children's Fund provided some additional funds to allow our new members to attend and to support a book-making project for a couple of the sessions. The workshop was held, once again, at the Kabubbu Community Library, which is affiliated to a conference centre and resort where we could all be put up.

Every workshop that UgCLA runs seems to be bigger and better than the last. In this case, we had 55 people attending, representing a large majority of our 67 member libraries. The activities were all focused on how we can better help children in our libraries. First, those libraries that had received books under the Children's Book Project reported on what they had done with them, and everybody present had a chance to ask questions and make comments. A packet of 80-odd books has been given to each of ten libraries, and while they all used them in different ways, the impact seems to have been great everywhere, bringing in increasing numbers of children and encouraging adults to read as well. Then we spent an afternoon working on photographs of everyday Ugandan people, things, and activities: participants designated the themes in the new thematic curriculum for lower primary classes that the photographs could be used for and wrote text for each picture appropriate to the designated themes. Our plan is to collate this work to form  a set of picture books that could be used not only in primary schools but in nursery schools and for family literacy projects - for we have found that one of the major deficits in locally produced material is picture books for young children. Next day, the librarians at Kabubbu showed the participants how they could make supplementary material from the books they had in their libraries, material that would be fun for children to work with and that would make the books more accessible - and one of them had a group of eleven volunteers act out a story with an accompanying little song that she had made up. Lastly, we had a session devoted to "fun and games", which, this being Africa, evolved into everyone dancing to the beat of drums played by children from the Kabubbu primary school.

In short, a good time was had by all, but it's important to emphasize that this is not the sole purpose of our workshops. We have found that through them our library managers pick up ideas from their colleagues as well as from us, and that all the libraries are run, in consequence, a little better. The participants get to know one another and have by now built up a strong sense of solidarity, which is expressed in practical offers of help to one another. On this occasion, for example, the library at the Suubi Centre in Masaka District made arrangements for its new librarian to spend some time at Kitengesa and Kabubbu to get some training. Then, of course, the actual workshop sessions will result, we hope, in libraries exploring new activities and developing new materials. We have yet to see what will come up as a result of this last workshop, but we are confident that many libraries will now be using pictures more and many librarians will be making word cards and exercises to go with the children's books that they have.

How can Oxfam not mention libraries...

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From the AILA Africa Ren Newsletter - October 2009

Oxfam Report: West Africa's Literacy Challenge "From Closed Books to Open Doors: West Africa's Literacy Challenge" calculates the scale of the literacy crisis in West Africa, and explores what should be done about it. West Africa has the lowest literacy rates in the world. The report is launched in the context of the 2009 Global Week of Action on education, which focuses on literacy and lifelong learning, and the UN international conference on adult education, taking place in 2009 for the first time in 12 years. In West Africa, there are 65 million young people and adults who cannot read and write - more than 40% of the population - and 14 million children aged 7 to 12 who are not in primary school. Illiteracy is shutting these people off from the jobs, economic opportunities, good health and engagement in democracy. The consequences for them, their communities and their countries, is devastating. But the literacy crisis can be dealt with, and the doors to these rights opened. In the formal education system, there must be an effort to fill the gap in trained teachers, calculated at over three quarters of a million trained teachers. At the same time, governments need to put much greater priority on providing real opportunities to learn to read and write outside school, such as in adult literacy classes and youth training centres.

Read the recommendations and download the report here:
It is a good report, but honestly, how can you write thirty single-spaced pages about literacy and never mention libraries?????

EverythingLiterature interviews Babafemi Adeyemi Osofisan...
Poor reading culture is one of the major problems in Nigeria today. To what extent have you used your co-operation with the government to solve the problem?

First, let me point out that the problem of reading is no longer peculiar to us. The developed countries too are already having problems because of the computer and the modern audio-visual media such as the television. People can hardly spell anymore, because they don’t have to write. But our own case is more serious because we hadn’t attained any degree of literacy at all when we just jumped on the audio-visual media. I’m worried because what we gain in literature, the deep sense of contemplation, of reflection, etc., is absent from the audio-visual media. The television does not give you the time to reflect. It is a global problem and the developed countries are already carrying out programmes to see how they can encourage reading. Here we could also solve the problem through a conscious government policy. And I have been trying my best to see that the government does something. I have proposed a number of things to the government, as I had always done even before my appointment. I have proposed a national book list whereby the federal government would make provision in the budget to automatically buy specific number of books every year, and then make sure they are distributed to at least ten schools in each state. That is talking about thousands of books. If one publisher can sell that much, that publisher is in business, then the author is empowered and the books are in the libraries for reading. The cost of doing this will not be more than 10 million Naira. And when the federal government starts, the state governments can then go ahead. If this is done, we will surely revolutionalise reading in this country. But making proposal is one thing while accepting to implement it is another. It is a pity that government does not take such things as a priority. They think that physical infrastructures such as road construction are the only important aspect of development. But I think the mental development of the citizens should also go hand in hand with the physical development. Because, if you build the road and the person who is using it doesn’t even know how to use it, doesn’t have the mental capacity to use it properly, it will not last. Reading is really important and we will continue to advise the government on what to do to promote it, hoping that they would eventually heed to the advice.


Great resource for literacy teachers

From Kim Yi Dionne, down at UCLA...

via Official Google Africa Blog by farzanak on 2/10/09

En Français

Google, the ANLCI, UNESCO’s Institute for Lifelong Learning, LitCam together with Tostan - a Senegal based non-governmental organisation dedicated to educating and empowering Africans - are pleased to partner with several French-speaking literacy organizations to announce the launch of the French version of the Literacy site.

“The Literacy Project” is an online resource for teachers, literacy organisations and anyone interested in reading promotion and education. In addition to the existing English, German and Spanish versions, the Literacy site is now available in four languages . And two years down the line, we are happy to see that hundreds of organizations have signed up to our Literacy Map, created Literacy related blogs, search literacy related Books and Journals, and contributed to the recently created Literacy forum.

Any organisation can sign up to join the literacy site, and plot it's location in our Literacy Map.

Why the Literacy Project?
Illiteracy is a problem that touches all countries and populations, so we believe there’s a pressing need to share ideas, successful projects, information, and statistics about literacy—as well as find new ways to collaborate. Users can find and share ideas about literacy and reading promotion, from e-learning tools and book clubs, to classic children’s books and scholarly articles.Take a look at what you can do - and now in French too!

  • Books: find and search within books about literacy, reading promotion, and education, as well as classic children’s and adult literature.
  • Academic Texts: search for literacy-related content in peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles.
  • Literacy Videos: See what literacy organisations, schools, and educators around the world are doing to promote literacy—or share your own project with the world.
  • Book Blogs: Share your knowledge and ideas about literacy and reading with the world by creating a "blog" - short articles and stories that you write for others to read.
  • Books Clubs and Groups: Discover forums on literacy projects and ideas, start your own debate, or join in The Literacy Project forum.
  • Literacy Map: From Kenya to Bangladesh, Canada to Mexico. Find literacy organisations around the world, and search project and contact information.
  • Custom Literacy Search: Do targeted searches within literacy and education organisations’ websites.
L’Initiative contre l’illettrisme parle aussi français!

Il y a près de deux ans, à la Foire du Livre de Francfort, Google, l'ANLCI, l’Institut pour l'apprentissage tout au long de la vie de l'UNESCO, LitCam et Tostan - une NGO basée au Sénégal et dedidee a l'éducation en Afrique - ont le plaisir de lancer l’Initiative contre l’illettrisme Google.

L'Initiative contre l'Illetrisme Google est une ressource pour les professeurs, les organismes d’alphabétisation, de lutte contre l’illettrisme et tous ceux qui s’intéressent à la promotion de la lecture et de l’éducation. Nous sommes aujourd’hui heureux d’annoncer le lancement de la version française du site, qui vient compléter les versions anglaise, allemande et espagnole existantes. Deux ans plus tard, nous nous réjouissons de voir que des centaines d’organismes se sont enregistrés sur notre carte de l’alphabétisation, ont créé des blogs, des recherches de livres et des journaux sur le sujet, et ont contribué au forum sur l’alphabétisation récemment lancé.

Tout organisme peut s’enregistrer pour rejoindre le site Initiative contre l’illettrisme, et se situer sur la carte de l’alphabétisation.

Pourquoi cette Initiative contre l’illettrisme ?

L’illettrisme est un problème qui touche tous les pays et toutes les populations, aussi estimons-nous qu’il est urgent de s’échanger idées, projets réussis, informations et statistiques sur l’alphabétisation – et de trouver de nouvelles façons de collaborer. Le site permet à ses utilisateurs de trouver et de partager leurs idées sur l’alphabétisation et la promotion de la lecture - outils d’apprentissage en ligne, clubs de lecture, livres classiques pour enfants, articles savants. Voici ce que vous y trouverez – et maintenant en français aussi!

  • Livres: trouvez et compulsez des livres sur l’alphabétisation, la promotion de la lecture et l’éducation, ainsi que des ouvrages classiques pour enfants et adulte.
  • Textes universitaires: recherchez des passages sur l’alphabétisation dans des articles évalués par des pairs, des thèses, des ouvrages, des exposés et des articles.
  • Vidéos d’alphabétisation: Renseignez-vous sur ce que font les organismes d’alphabétisation, les écoles et les éducateurs à travers le monde pour promouvoir l’alphabétisation – ou faites connaître votre vos projets aux autres.
  • Blogs de lecture: Echangez vos connaissances et vos idées sur l’alphabétisation et la lecture avec des internautes à travers le monde en créant un « blog » - de courts articles et chroniques que vous avez écrits pour que d’autres puissent les lire.
  • Clubs et groupes de lecture: Découvrez des forums sur des projets et idées d’alphabétisation, ouvrez votre propre débat, ou rejoignez le forum de l’Initiative contre l’illettrisme.
  • Carte de l’alphabétisation: De la France à la Belgique, au Maroc ou au Sénégal, découvrez des organismes d’alphabétisation du monde entier, trouvez des informations sur les projets et les contacts.
  • Recherches personnalisées sur l’alphabétisation: Effectuez des recherches ciblées sur les sites web d’organismes d’alphabétisation et d’éducation.

Teaching reading to kindergartners

Kindergartners are guided to learn how to read, through repetition and positive feedback, and by using time-tested strategies such as rhyming songs, alphabet exercises, phonetics lessons (The P says "pah"), sight words, and simple books that contain a small vocabulary of short words with good illustrations ("Hop on Pop" by Dr. Seuss). Schools in rural Burkina Faso have none of that, and most teachers have little training in how to deliver these strategies. An important component of rural village libraries is to have librarians who are trained and who can train others in these strategies. This seems to me to be an essential medium-term focus for library support organizations like FAVL. But with present resources, we can barely scratch the surface.

Literacy studies from Nigeria

The summary of the brief report is available here.

The first study, conducted by Isaac Adetunji Olaofe, examined public schools and illiteracy in Zaria, northern Nigeria. This action research was undertaken to get first-hand information about literacy teaching in five primary schools. The researchers set out to study teachers and students of English and aimed at better understanding the constraints each group faces.

To achieve these goals, inventory schedules were designed to record the materials and equipment in each classroom. In addition, an observation schedule through one school year allowed the research team to code activities during lesson presentations and to record classroom actions. In part, the researchers' findings revealed the following information: (a) All of the primary schools were deficient in the basic infrastructural facilities that make learning conducive, such as access roads, buildings, furniture, and toilets. Many classrooms lacked window covers, doors, ceilings, and basic items such as tables and chairs, and children generally sat on the floor. (b) The schools had very little in common in terms of ideas for teaching literacy. Working more in isolation, teachers did not share teaching experiences with one another. (c) Literacy materials were almost nonexistent. Copies of the sole text that was used were in short supply, and children were not allowed to take them home. (d) The schools lacked libraries and other teaching materials. (e) Lead teachers, inspectors, and supervisors saw themselves as administrative heads of a top-down administration and were less concerned about literacy development than with handing down directives. (f) Parental or home support was found to be extremely limited. (g) High absenteeism rates, especially during the planting and harvesting seasons (when student attendance fell below 50%) were credited to parental dissatisfaction with student progress. (h) Corruption was widespread, and most of the resources allocated for education did not reach the classrooms.


Books, reading, and libraries relevant to Africa by Michael Kevane, co-Director of FAVL and economist at Santa Clara University.

Other contributors include Kate Parry, FAVL-East Africa director, FAVL Burkina Faso representative Koura Donkoui, FAVL Burkina Faso program manager Krystle Nanema, and FAVL friends Emilie Crofton and Elisee Sare.

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