Learning English with peers: e-readers arrive in Tanzania
On January 16th, 25 government schools in Iringa District, Tanzania, had reason to celebrate, as over 1,300 e-readers arrived, ready for children to use as part of a new literacy curriculum delivered by young women in Camfed’s alumnae association, CAMA, as Learner Guides.
The UK Department for International Development, through its Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF), provided the grant that will allow young women to reach 4,500 students over two years, using Worldreader’s e-reader technology to deliver learning resources to help marginalized children learn English, improve their literacy, pass their exams, and stay in school.
The project launch event in Iringa was officiated by the Deputy Permanent Secretary for the President’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG), Mr Bernard Makali, and attended by a number of officials, including the Iringa District Executive Director, Iringa’s Regional Administration Secretary, Camfed Board and national education stakeholders, and district officials. The Heads of all 25 schools involved in the project, 25 English teachers, 50 Form One students, and 25 members of the CAMA alumnae network, who will be teaching the new curriculum at these partner schools, joined the celebration.
“At Camfed, we excitedly look forward to seeing this technology partnership with schools smoothen students’ transition from primary to secondary school,” says Lydia Wilbard, Camfed Tanzania’s Co-Director (Programmes & Impact). “Here the teaching language switches from Swahili to English, which has proved to be one of the major barriers to students’ academic performance, and a source of truancy and dropout.”
Technology Meets the Empathy and Experience of Peers
57 Learner Guides – young women supported through school by Camfed who have experienced poverty and the barriers to learning first-hand – are being trained to use the e-readers, together with their empathy and expertise, to help students in Form One to improve their English literacy and study skills, easing the transition to secondary school. Each student will have access to an e-reader, and the technology is expected to benefit the whole school.
“We are launching our new literacy curriculum at the end of January,” says Nasikiwa Duke, Young Women’s Empowerment Manager at Camfed Tanzania. “Supporting English teachers, our Learner Guides will work with children at 25 secondary schools in rural communities, where schools are severely under-resourced and where there is a huge shortage of textbooks. Each e-book will deliver thousands of books, including Camfed’s ‘Learning to Learn English’ study guide.”
Lydia Wilbard concludes, “Camfed, just like Tanzania’s government, is committed to quality education and academic excellence, and together we look forward to seeing this project push up learning outcomes and future prospects for some of this country’s most vulnerable children.”