Parents and teachers should ensure children get the right literacy skills


While enrolment of learners in schools has greatly improved in Kenya, low literacy and numeracy rates still exist. A report released by Usawa Agenda in April 2022 indicated that only four out of 10 children in Grade 4 can read fluently in English.

This means that a majority of our children are moving to Grade 4 when they can’t even read this newspaper. The 2019 national census showed that nine out of 10 children aged between 6-13 years are enrolled in school, which begs the question: how many of these children get to learn effectively?

In recent years, the Ministry of Education and many other partners have pondered the question of how to get all children to acquire literacy and numeracy skills at the right time in their schooling journey.

One solution is offered by the Tusome Programme, which focuses on intensifying reading and literacy development by improving access to books, training and coaching, as well as monitoring support given to teachers.

In every classroom setting, not all students learn at the same pace. We have quick and slow learners, but what does this mean for the slow ones? In most cases, they are usually left behind. This is where Zizi Afrique and Safaricom Foundation’s Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) comes in as the solution.

ALP works by identifying non-readers and putting measures in place to ensure they catch up. These children are exposed to learning materials that are used in their assessment. When the literacy and numeracy gaps are discovered, we take them for learning camps that last 10 days.

Zizi Afrique works closely with primary schools to implement the programme. From this model, three key issues stand out.

The first is assessment. While we understand assessment to be a complicated, technical exercise that is only conducted by the Kenya National Examinations Council, experts argue that getting to know whether your child can read and understand is something every parent should be able to do at home.

Secondly, research from JPAL and Pratham shows that children learn and read best and fastest when grouped according to their levels.

Thirdly, after the assessment and grouping is done, play-based activities are recommended.