'Unlock Literacy' project enhances Gideon's reading skills

Through its Unlock Literacy project, World Vision uses the five core reading skills (letter knowledge, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and reading comprehension) as a means to bridge the gap of literacy by training teachers in good teaching methodologies to bring lifelong learning to children.

This approach is working, and has improved the reading skills of Gideon. Gideon happens to be one of many children registered under World Vision's sponsorship programme within the Area Programme. Before he was introduced to World Vision's education intervention in the beginning of the year, Gideon could not blend letter sounds and read simple sentences in both local language (Twi) and English in Grade three at this community school.

Gideon's father is a peasant farmer whereas his mother, a fish monger in the community. He is the third child among three siblings who initially had the chance to attend school. Owing to his learning difficulties, he became a truant and rather developed interest in helping his mother sell fish at the market.

The Unlock Literacy project has several components, including community action which has After-School Reading Camp and Parental Awareness sessions to be implemented under the project. The After-School Reading Camp is a place where children go after school to build on the literacy skills they learn from school. Community volunteers facilitate the sessions and lead children to build their literacy skills through songs, storytelling and reading activities. The Parental Awareness sessions on the other hand, offer parents and community members –both those who can and those who cannot read– the opportunity to help their children to read.

A newly posted Unlock Literacy teacher, Madam Awal at the time, was inspired by Gideon's story and decided to offer the needed support to overcome his learning challenges by giving special attention and always visiting him at home to ensure he comes to school regularly. She also started implementing the Unlock Literacy model in school by using fun activities to teach Gideon and his peers how to blend letter sounds.

This resulted in the gradual improvement of Gideon's reading skills as he began to develop the interest for reading. In half a year, Gideon could blend letter sounds and read simple sentences. He was introduced to the After-School Reading Camp in order to sustain his reading interest and also to improve his reading skills.

''Gideon was not able to read fluently when he joined, but I ensured that the children collected books from the book banks to read at home, which has helped considerably to improve their reading and comprehension –including for Gideon'', shares Obed, a reading cub facilitator at Gyengyen.

Madam Awal also introduced Gideon's parents to World Vision's Parental Awareness session where they had the opportunity to learn and support Gideon and his siblings to acquire quality education.

During this year's 65th Independence Day celebration, Gideon was selected to participate in poetry recital for his school, where he won the admiration of everyone. The event was graced by his father who was so excited about Gideon's performance and expressed his profound gratitude to World Vision and all the teachers for their support in improving the reading skills of Gideon.

Gideon later joined the Child Parliament as an advocate for the Unlock Literacy project where he is preparing to accomplish his dream of becoming a remarkable poet and a lecturer in the near future. This clearly shows how the Unlock Project project has helped to unleash the talent of poetry in Gideon.