Literacy Skills mastery through family engagement

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Kiswahili Family Literacy

Focuses on the literacy needs of the billions of Kiswahili-speaking families in Africa that have illiterate adults and children. It can be delivered as an online learning solution, on pre-loaded tablets, or to mobile phones. It can be paid for by non-profits and governments serving these families or directly by the families as data minutes.

  • Puts students in charge of their own learning, motivating them, helping them learn to make decisions and building independence.
  • Provides an opportunity to work in teams which accelerates learning, builds team problem solving skills, builds communications skills and makes learning more fun!
  • Covers every reading skill necessary for proficiency, ensuring that adults fil in their skill gaps and achieve the highest literacy level possible.

Family Literacy and International Education

Learners outside the U.S. typically face the triple challenge of learning to read and write in their local language, in their national language and in English. And, while true illiteracy is rare, practical illiteracy is still endemic in many countries. For example, the stated literacy rate in Kenya is 78%7, however, as recently as 2006, less than half of the children who enrolled in first grade completed the eight years primary school cycle, women were literate at 2/3 the rate of men, and rural dwellers often had only rudimentary literacy8. In 2000, Odalo estimated that the functional literacy rate in Kenya at only 65%, and more recent data indicate that this figure may have been high. In Nigeria, Adelakun estimates the literacy rate to be below 65%9. In South Africa, children from the lower 75% of the country’s economic strata score nearly a full standard deviation below the wealthiest 25%, and even the wealthy children score below those from other middle income countries like Chile10.

In spite of these results, the methods of developing literacy in all languages are well known11:

    1. Build reading and writing skills in the learner’s first language first, and then transfer those skills to other languages of instruction,

    2. Provide students with scaffolded instruction in phonemic awareness, decoding, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension and written expression, and

    3. Provide a reason for reading and writing – for pleasure, to be informed, to accomplish a task, and provide practice in reading and writing across a wide range of subjects of interest.

When the local school system is not structured along these lines, outcomes are weak. Teacher training in the use of supplemental lessons to fully teach the six elements of literacy are highly effective (e.g., When such training is not available, literacy skills development software can provide a substitute for students motivated enough to maintain use over the long periods of time necessary to become literate.

8Grace W. Bunyi – Real options for literacy policy and practice in Kenya, 2006.
9Ojo Johnson Adelakun – Human Capital Development and Economic Growth in Nigeria, 2011.
10Nicholas Spaull – South Africa’s Education Crisis: The quality of education in South Africa 1994-2011, 2013.
11Morrow & Gambrell – Best Practices in Literacy Instruction, 2011.


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