Having worked with partners in Lesotho since 2010, School Aid is now rolling out a series of reading clubs to help participant primary schools to maximise the potential of their resources. With an emphasis on fun, the clubs are very different to the more formal style of learning that is typical in Lesotho, and are already proving popular.
The aim of the clubs is two-fold: to instil a love of reading, and to improve literacy. The format was conceived in consultation with primary-school teachers with experience of working in both the UK and Africa, and resulted in the production of a short training video. To launch the clubs, School Aid has appointed a full-time Project and Reading Officer, Moso Ranoosi, who joined us in November 2016.
Each club meets for an hour or so every week under the initial leadership of the Project and Reading Officer, supported by a nominated teacher from the school and two student volunteers. At Moso's instigation, sessions start with an ‘energizer’, whereby the small group of children gets to wriggle, dance and jump away a busy school day before being immersed in the world of books.
As the week’s story unfolds, the children are encouraged to join in with actions, followed by opportunities for drama, crafts and creative writing. One-to-one reading allows them to practise their reading in a relaxed environment and to improve their understanding of English, which is the medium of instruction in Lesotho.
There are stars for attendance, which the children affix to colourful bookmarks that were specially designed by sponsors Usborne Books at Home, and stickers to reward both commitment and progress. Usborne kindly donated all the books for the clubs, from the main collection of stories to individual titles which the children borrow each week. Book prizes are awarded at the end of each term for both commitment and progress.
Lesotho’s school year runs to two terms, with the first ending in June. At that stage, we anticipate sharing results from this first term, based on weekly records and individual case studies. In the meantime, schools are already lining up to participate in the scheme when the new term starts in August.