Helping Teachers Teach Reading and Writing
Why Early Literacy?
Despite a decade and a half of heavy spending by the international community, and reforms in the education system, reading outcomes among children at all grade levels in Afghanistan are among the worst in the world. Contributing to this situation is that half of Afghan teachers are unqualified, there is minimal instructional time in classrooms, children get little to no exposure to literacy at home, and most Afghan schools report insufficient supplies of textbooks, with few having school libraries. Some studies have even documented illiteracy among Afghan teachers in some provinces. Not surprisingly, many children fail to acquire grade-appropriate knowledge as they move through the school system and others dropout of school altogether, retaining little of value from the months or years spent in school and undermining the significant social mobilization that compelled thousands of families to send their children, including girls, to school for the first time in the post-Taliban era. When children attend school but do not learn to read, families lose faith in the idea that education is a way to a better life.
How We Help
Reading and writing competencies are the foundation of all other learning, so it’s critical that teachers have well honed skills in the teaching of reading, especially in the early grades. We are working to bring world class instruction in the teaching of reading, writing and numeracy to Afghan teachers, drawing on the latest evidence of what works. Through the Lantern Fund, we will be helping teachers to master teaching skills in these areas through in-person training, and a corresponding e-learning course, or MOOC (massive open online course) -- free, open learning accessible to Afghan teachers regardless of where they live. We are also continuing our work establishing libraries in high schools, through the School Library Starter Kits, and providing schools with training on how to manage school libraries. In our Technology for Education program, our digital library of learning materials, Darakht-e Danesh, includes collections on Literacy Education, Children’s Storybooks, and more that help put resources into the hands of teachers responsible for developing literacy skills in children. Finally, we are working to publish, print, translate and otherwise produce more storybooks so that children can build their reading skills by having storybooks in their own languages. For example, read about our support to Hoopoe Books to produce bilingual storybooks of Afghan fables, our partnership with Storyweaver to translate their books into Afghan languages, how we raised funds for printing the Afghan Songbook and its follow-up book of traditional Afghan folktales. Also, check out our work to bring sectoral actors together who work in book production, librarianship and reading promotion in Afghanistan.