Doreen makes the grade: Out-of-school learning activities reinforce literacy skills

Before the Literacy Boost programme came to her school, 10-year-old Doreen was at the bottom of her grade, academically. Now, through hard work and participation in a variety of in- and out-of-school literacy activities, she is the top student in her class. “I am happy that I passed examinations, and I was top of my class,” said Doreen.

Doreen’s teacher, Enock Kapangama, credits her progress to World Vision’s Literacy Boost interventions, implemented in local schools across the community. “In the past we have had a lot of challenges in ensuring that learners read and write as quickly as possible,” he said. “With the [reading] camps where community members are giving their children extra lessons in a community setting, the work has been simplified.

He added that students are exposed to a wide variety of reading materials, which wasn’t the case before Literacy Boost. Children are also more focused in their free time: Reading camps provide structured opportunities for them to play educational games that reinforce literacy skills.

Every day, Doreen and many other children from her village gather at a local church for their reading camp. Through several community interface sessions organised by World Vision, community members realised that they play a central role in their children’s education.

“World Vision has been telling us that our children’s education and future is our full responsibility, and through these literacy camps, we believe that our children will excel in their education.” ~ Getrude Mabanya, community volunteer

“World Vision has been telling us that our children’s education and future is our full responsibility, and through these literacy camps, we believe that our children will excel in their education,” says 27-year-old Getrude Mabanya, a volunteer at Doreen’s reading camp. She added that World Vision supports the volunteers by providing reading materials that create a culture of learning in early grade readers.

There are currently 18 reading camps in this community. World Vision has partnered with the Ministry of Education, which adopted all of the reading camps and provides supervision through the government primary schools.

Literacy Boost has brought hope for the future to Doreen and students across her community. “I want to be a nurse when I grow up,” said Doreen.

Literacy Boost helps girls overcome barriers to learning

In Malawi, girls often struggle to succeed in school due to a variety of constraints, such as early marriage and a lack of information about post-secondary and career opportunities. However, endline assessments reveal that Literacy Boost had a measurable positive impact on girls.

After one year, girls in Literacy Boost showed significant improvement in literacy skills compared to girls who were not in the programme: equivalent to an additional two to four months of instruction, depending on the reading skill. Girls in the programme did particularly well with: most used words, ability to read in Chichewa (their first language), and Chichewa accuracy.

The analysis showed that girls with a supportive home literacy environment saw greater gains still. This emphasises the need to build supportive home literacy environments for learners, especially girls, within the community.