Community literacy education in Burundi helps a grandmother teach her granddaughter to read

Fifty-five-year-old Elisabeth is determined to see her grandchildren go to school and receive a quality education. “I want them to study and grow up to be nurses,” she says, holding the hand of her 7-year-old granddaughter, Nadine.

Her own children grew up in a time when there were no schools accessible to them. “Development had not reached my home village,” says Elisabeth.

Years later, there are schools in Elisabeth’s village in Cankuzo Province, Burundi. Her older grandchildren attended school before Nadine, but she reports that none performed so well r youngest granddaughter. Nadine finished first in her grade 1 class and continues to do well in grade 2.

The difference for Nadine is Literacy Boost*, a programme that strengthens literacy skills in early grade readers through a variety of in- and out-of-school activities. One year before Nadine started school, World Vision launched its Reading to Learn project, which incorporates the Literacy Boost programme.

Elisabeth was among the first group of parents and caregivers trained in Literacy Boost at-home learning methods, through Reading to Learn. “After training, I realized that literacy is not hard to understand,” says Elisabeth.

“After training, I realized that literacy is not hard to understand,” says Elisabeth.

Before the training, she didn’t know how to help her grandchildren to read and write at home. The parental awareness training illustrated how everyday materials can support children in practicing their literacy skills. Now, Elisabeth uses creative tools – like banana leaves – to encourage Nadine to practice writing letters and words.

Jean Bosco, a Literacy Boost facilitator says that parents are very supportive of the Learning to Read project. “They actively participate in parental awareness training. They take their children to after-school reading camps to play games, read stories together, and borrow books from the book bank. Some of the parents act as volunteer facilitators at the reading camps as well."

Many community members, especially elderly members, offer to come to the reading camps to tell the children stories. Community members have also written books for the children that reflect the local culture.

“[The community] has made the project their own,” said Jean Bosco.

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*Literacy Boost is a copyrighted tool designed, developed, and owned by Save the Children.