LUSAKA, March 11 (Xinhua) — “I used to be very shy and had difficulties in reading and understanding things. I am now assertive because I can read and write,” said Bisha Mwale, a sixth grader at Mutambe Primary School in the Zambian capital city of Lusaka.
She owed her improvement to a literacy enrichment program called LitClubs, which is provided by GoYe Therefore (GYT) Zambia in partnership with non-profit literacy organization LitWorld.
LitClubs are weekly sessions held after class for joyful learning, creative play and social interaction. The project started in Zambia in January 2017 and has been serving hundreds of children and adults in Lusaka and Zambia’s southern city of Livingstone.
Whenever the club members meet, they read aloud stories from children’s storybooks, recite poems or act out sketches.
Some parents pointed out that their children’s reading and writing skills had made big headway.
“Community reading sessions has helped my daughter to be more assertive and interested in school and her academic performance has improved tremendously.” Emelda Banda, a mother of one club member in Lusaka, told Xinhua Saturday.
“She is even able to understand news items and explain them to me,” the mother said.
Banda also mentioned that the reading sessions had helped reduce illiteracy levels in communities where they are carried out.
Some adults have even been encouraged to go back to school because they have realized the importance of being able to read and write, she added.
But what makes community reading sessions successful? Sanyambe Mutambezi Mweemba, a coordinator of GYT Zambia, has an idea.
“Our curriculum does not teach the intricacies of reading and writing of phonetics and grammar. Instead, we create a space where members can reflect on their own stories and curiosities through the read aloud and discussions around literacy activities,” said Mweemba.
LitClubs and community read aloud sessions help communities to develop a love of learning that also help them improve their cognitive and academic performance in school or other informal learning settings, she said.
She further suggested reading aloud at home, in workplaces, orphanages, seniors’ homes, hospices and hospitals.
Reading aloud have many benefits such as easing tensions, stress and pain, relaxation, as well as enhancing people’s bond, according to Mweemba.
A UNESCO global education monitoring report said if all students in low-income countries left school with elementary reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty, which would be equivalent to a 12 percent cut in world poverty.