Learning to read and write is the basic foundation of education. However, children in rural areas of Zambia are still much less likely to be literate than those living in cities. A large scale government survey showed that nearly half (47.3%) of women in rural areas cannot read at all compared to only one in six (16.4%) in urban areas¹. This discrepancy is due, in no small part, to the large class sizes (often with a wide range of abilities) and a lack of teaching materials often found in rural schools.
Literacy is not only one of the main focuses of Raise a Smile, but also of the Mambwe District Ministry of Education. Therefore, we have decided to build on the work that we have already been doing on literacy and develop a manual for teaching literacy in the local language of Chinyanja with assistance from the Ministry of Education. The outcome of this has been the "STAARS Resource Manual for Chinyanja Early Literacy" which provides practical solutions to the challenges faced by teachers in rural schools.
STAARS stands for "Simple Teaching Aids and Activities for Rural Schools" and this manual, on the topic of early literacy, will be the first in a series of resource manuals and guides that will cover a range of subjects from maths and science to health topics.
The first manual on literacy includes tips for effective teaching, how to make simple teaching aids from locally available and cheap materials, activities and educational games for teaching literacy and a large appendix with useful resources such as pre-writing exercises, sample words and sentences, stories, lesson plans and much more.
The STAARS manual has received the approval of the Mambwe District MoE and will be printed and distributed to teachers in rural schools over the coming weeks and months.
¹ Zambia demographic and health survey 2007