THE American government has invested about K960 million (US$49 million) in Zambia’s education sector to help improve reading outcome in the country.
The funding is under the five-year United States Agency for International Development (USAID) ‘Let’s Read Project’ implemented in partnership with the Ministry of General Education from 2019 and will run up to 2024.
The project is targeted at facilitating a culture of reading for approximately 1.4 million pre-primary to grade three children from 4,250 public and community schools in Eastern, Muchinga, North-Western, Southern, and Western provinces.
U.S. Embassy Chargé d’affaires David Young said this in commemoration of the 2020 International Literacy Day under the theme: “Literacy Teaching and Learning in the COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond”.
Mr Young said besides the ongoing COVID-19 related support offered through the project, the U.S. has provided more than K332 million to support mitigation activities in the health, education, and economic development sectors.
“Radio-based programmes like, ‘Tips for Teachers’ and ‘Folktalesfor Students’ continue to provide instructional and professional support for teachers and learners during the pandemic. The programs are provided through interactive radio instruction, an approach that broadcasts pre-recorded, interactive lessons to students, teachers and parents,” Mr Young explained.
He further advocated for increased parental and caregiver involvement in advancing childhood literacy.
“There is a need for greater parental involvement in the education of their children, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic period. It is critically important that parents support the learning of their children by helping them with reading and follow up activities after they hear the folktales that are broadcast. Reading with your child helps develop a stronger bond between you and offers a greater sense of well-being,” Mr Young said,
To date, over 18,000 head teachers and grade one to three literacy teachers from 4,600 public and community schools in over 60 districts have been trained in literacy instructional methodology.
The U.S. further disclosed that ‘Let’s Read Project’ will also provide more than five million books and other learning materials in the seven official languages stipulated by the MoGE to over 4,600 public and community schools.