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Case Study Literacy


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Case Study Literacy

  1. 1. Literacy Bridge’s Talking Book Project Increasing Literacy Education Case Study: Upper West Region, Ghana Skills In January 2009, Literacy Bridge partnered with teachers and administrators in the Jirapa District, Upper West Region, Ghana. SUMMARY Approximately 40 percent of the adult population across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia cannot read even simple sentences; in the rural Jirapa District, illiteracy is far more prevalent. Since parents are unable to read to their children, literacy learning occurs almost exclusively in the classroom. Yet classes are extremely overcrowded and children have virtually no supplies, running water or electricity. The Talking Book allows children to practice literacy learning in the absence of overburdened educators. Increasing Children’s Literacy Skills with the Talking Book INTRODUCTION THE CHALLENGE Literacy Bridge began conducting its initial pilot program in Literacy Bridge selected the Hain Primary School for initial the rural Upper West Region of Ghana in January 2009. Talking Book distribution because it is similar to other rural Talking Book audio computers, designed to improve schools within Ghana and across Africa. Fewer than half of literacy and reading comprehension skills, were distributed children attend school in many of the surrounding villages. to students and educators at the Hain Primary School to Virtually all local families make a living from subsistence gauge their efficacy in a challenging environment. farming. Children spend long hours in the fields cultivating their families’ crops and of those who do attend primary The Hain Primary School has only four trained teachers to school, very few pursue secondary educations. serve 483 students across six grade levels. Fifth grade has the smallest class size of 64 students; the second grade Rural schools in many parts of Africa, including the Hain classroom packs in 112 students. These numbers are not Primary School, suffer from overcrowding and unusual for schools throughout Africa and South Asia. underfunding. Some classes have more than a 100 to 1 ratio of students to teachers, and most teachers lack any formal teacher training. Additionally, most schools have no electricity or running water and not nearly enough textbooks for all students. All of these factors make the dissemination of knowledge extraordinarily difficult. Teachers stress the importance of education, yet the challenges are immense. Approximately 40 percent of the adult population in Ghana remains totally illiterate1. Africa Kangpog Y Pius Teacher, Hain Primary School, Ghana Kangpog Y Pius, a teacher at the Hain Primary School, was the first educator to receive a Talking Book. After reviewing device features and functionality, he introduced the Talking Book to his class. Pius initially encouraged his students to record themselves reading textbooks, and to use the Talking Book playback feature as a means for improving English pronunciation. The children quickly familiarized themselves with the Talking Book and began engaging in a number of literacy learning activities. email: PO Box 1256 Seattle, WA 98111-1256
  2. 2. Increasing Literacy Literacy Bridge’s Talking Book Project Skills THE SOLUTION Literacy Bridge’s Talking Books are low-cost audio All instructions are audio based, so there are no computers that enable children and their parents to accompanying printed materials. Talking Books are practice reading when a literate educator is unavailable. portable, durable, and powered by locally available When paired with a book or even an alphabet written on a batteries, so they are ideal for areas without electricity. black board, users can engage in active reading exercises, THE RESULTS but the device also supports reading comprehension The Talking Book project provides learners with a means questions and other interactive exercises. of practicing literacy learning skills in the absence of an educator. Specifically, Talking Books facilitate literacy learning through: “The Talking Book allows children to o Comprehension and pronunciation activities. continue learning from a text even when o Lesson playback at various speeds. their teacher is unavailable. There is always o The ability to skip ahead or backwards within and great interest in the Talking Book, and as a between lessons. result, a lot of competition to read in the o The ability to define key vocabulary words within a classroom. Students are excited to read, lesson. Learners can return immediately to where they left off, so they don’t lose their place. and they use the device to improve a o Learners can engage in multiple-choice style question- number of literacy skills including reading and-answer sessions, and other interactive activities. comprehension and pronunciation.” -Kangpog Y Pius For example, Talking Books are particularly useful for Teacher, Hain Primary School, Ghana helping children practice English lessons. While English is the national language in Ghana, there are more than 250 languages and local dialects. English is prevalent in both Once an educator or member of the community has government and business, and is the standard language recorded a reading, students can listen to the recording, used for educational instruction. The Talking Book enables control the speed of playback, choose to have particular children to listen to, and improve, their English words defined while the story is paused, and skip within pronunciation, which oftentimes they are unable to do at and between lessons from page to page, line to line, or home. even word to word. Kangpog Y Pius and other educators at the Hain Primary School noted student excitement around the Talking Books. Throughout Literacy Bridge’s five month pilot project, there was sustained competition in the classroom to use Talking Books on literacy learning exercises. Students enjoyed listening to their voices and playing educational games over a sustained period of time, indicating that the novelty of the new technology was not likely to decline after weeks or even months. Literacy Bridge continues to partner with Kangpog Y Pius and other educators at the Hain Primary School, and will continue measuring overall impact into 2010. The organization plans to partner with additional school districts in Ghana and other communities across Africa, Literacy Bridge’s Talking Books Asia, and Latin America. Talking Books are designed to be produced for less than $10 US. They allow users to record and play 40 hours of audio messages through a fully customizable audio menu. 1 Ghana National Population and Housing Census: