Zerihun Gultie, Sponsorship Manager
West Showa, Ethiopia
October 5, 2012
In 2009 a study was conducted to measure the reading skills of children in the South West and West Showa zones of Ethiopia. The results were shocking, a huge percentage of 3rd grade children were unable to read a single word, despite schools, trained teachers and community support. It was then that Save the Children came up with an innovative concept called Literacy Boost to create a culture of reading, both inside and outside the classroom.
In April of this year I visited three schools which have benefited from Literacy Boost. I was
stunned by the positive change. Children in the 2nd and 3rd grades were reading their textbooks and were highly engaged – almost all were able to read an average of 40 or more words per minute.
There I met Mitke Kuma, a vibrant 2nd grade teacher. She is a multi-disciplinary teacher, teaching 6 lessons a day on all subject matters. She lives several miles from the school and walks almost three hours each day to and from work. When her shift starts in the morning, she often sets off walking in the dark in order to be ready to start teaching at 8am. On Mondays, she arrives an hour early or extends her afternoon shift to help students in the library as part of her commitment to the Literacy Boost program.
Mitke has participated in several Save the Children trainings. She is a strong supporter of Literacy Boost and is constantly developing aids to help her students read. She has grouped them into three reading levels with materials according to their skill, and has facilitated a reading buddies program where younger children are paired with older students who help them with their reading. According to Mitke, the Literacy Boost trainings have equipped teachers with effective and necessary teaching skills.
Mitke is committed to helping the children at her school and hopes to move closer, “If my home were closer to school, Icould have more time to help students improve their literacy level,” she
shares. Her dream is to improve her educational qualification to a PhD.
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