LUSAKA – The United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Let’s Read Project, joined the Government of the Republic of Zambia in celebrating International Literacy Day (ILD) on Wednesday, September 8, and acknowledging September as National Literacy Month.
An annual reminder of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, ILD 2021 promoted the theme “Literacy for a Human-Centered Recovery: Narrowing the Digital Divide.” Opportunely aligned with this year’s theme, the USAID Let’s Read Project recently procured 5,000 electronic tablets for use by teaching professionals in public and community schools, and has developed radio-based materials for both teachers and students.
“Technology has made it possible to reach teachers and learners despite the disruptions caused by COVID-19,” said Sarah Crites, USAID/Zambia’s Education Office Director. “Through USAID Let’s Read, training for teachers and literacy programming has also continued through community radio programs, reaching more than half of Zambia in the past year.”
As part of its commitment to foster technological advancements in schools, USAID Let’s Read has developed an online Performance Tracking System (PTS) which enables classroom teachers to more easily monitor the development of their students’ reading abilities. In cooperation with the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA), USAID Let’s Read has also developed the READ (7323) shortcode, which serves as a hotline for teachers who use the PTS system on their electronic tablets.
“Our partnership with the Ministry of General Education (MoGE) led to the recent development of virtual training platforms, which provided literacy-coach training to 54 master trainers and 250 district trainers,” noted Denise Clarke Reeves, Chief of Party for USAID Let’s Read.
In recognition of ILD and National Literacy Month, USAID and Let’s Read are hosting a series of events to highlight the key opportunities to improve primary school reading and literacy skills, through partnerships with the MoGE to strengthen the implementation of the Primary Literacy Programme.
The U.S. government’s flagship education project in Zambia, the USAID Let’s Read Project was launched in January 2019. The K795 million ($48.8 million), five-year project is a partnership with the MoGE to improve reading outcomes for approximately 1.4 million pre-primary to Grade 3 children from over 4,200 public and community schools in Zambia’s Eastern, Muchinga, North Western, Southern, and Western provinces.