This blog post was written by a staff member from i.HUG’s local Ugandan partner
Poor literacy is a challenge that children all over Uganda face. There isn’t enough emphasis on key skills and also many teachers are poorly trained.
It is also one of the critical challenges facing the most needy children, and the problem is compounded by the fact that they don’t have high academic achievers in their families. Indeed, the children we serve most often come from families headed by single mothers, widows, and grandparents who did not go to school. These children also have the additional challenge of needing to work while receiving education—and yet even with these small jobs, in most cases, they still go hungry. (We are thankful for the support from i.HUG donors, so at least each child can eat lunch at school).
In conjunction with Global Primary School, we took aim at the issue of literacy and have been focusing on improving rates of literacy among the students with the most difficulties—those who couldn’t write, read, or spell. We have offered extra time and educational support to these children so that we can make the best out of the sponsorship program.
We used the following strategies:
(1) Using phonics to mentor children in reading
(2) Monitoring these children in and out of class
(3) Hosting ‘Circle Time’ so they share the challenges they face.
Since July 2014, when the project started, there has been great progress in the children’s performance and many children have improved their grades. Part of the progress has to do with i.HUG’s approach in addressing not only the gaps in education, but also on focusing on the root causes of those gaps, such as the lack of food or mentorship.
Take for example one of the girls in our program, a six year old who even at this young age is falling far behind in terms of literacy. The student could barely write a letter unless you held her pencil with her. One of major causes for this is she is chronically ill, which causes her to be absent from school.
We talked to her and encouraged her. With that, she started to improve. The loss of her Mom at the end of the second school term was a set back, but with the love and care that staff members have shown her, she has shown great courage and has continued to progress. She can now read many three-lettered words.
While we are a small organization, we know our approach with children gives us an outstanding status. With time, we’d like to see this programme move all over the country, helping children at different schools overcome such challenges and also training teachers on how to improve literacy through improving the way they support children when they teach reading and writing.