Food for Education: "All Pikin for Learn" in Sierra Leone (2012–2015)
This 3-year food for education project builds the capacity of teachers and educational leaders to improve literacy knowledge and instructional practices in grades 3 to 8 in northern Sierra Leone. Catholic Relief Service's Food For Education All Pikin for Learn project is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is targeted to reach 192 schools in five chiefdoms of the Koinadugu District of Sierra Leone. In partnership with Catholic Relief Services, the International Reading Association has trained 30 Master Teachers, 192 head school administrators, 8 Ministry of Education supervisors and 60 college faculty at Northern Polytechnic Teacher's College in Diagnostic Teaching pedagogy and practices. Ongoing step-down training and mentoring by Master Trainers and engagement of the Ministry of Education leadership will support sustainable instructional and classroom improvements for over 700 rural teachers. Teachers learn practical strategies for creating child-centered participatory classrooms and techniques in lesson planning, differentiated learning, and continuous assessment before, during and after instruction. Partner organizations will facilitate 192 reading clubs and workshops to develop local authors capable of writing and publishing supplementary reading materials in local languages. Catholic Relief Services will strengthen School Management Committees, foster Life Skill training, the form Mothers' Clubs and Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) groups. The project aims to reach 30,000 students in the five Koinadugu chiefdoms.
Active Teaching & Learning Approaches in Schools (ATLAS I, II & III) in Zambia (2008–2014)
The Zambia ATLAS project was a tripartite partnership between ChildFund-Zambia, ChildFund New Zealand and the International Reading Association. As part of ChildFund's broader mandate to develop child-friendly schools, ATLAS sought to improve the quality of teaching and learning through: (1) In-service teacher training in using child-centered, participatory, active methods of teaching; (2) Teacher exchange program with New Zealand teachers; and (3) Professional development activities, including the development of a coaching program and the creation of Teacher Quality Circles (TQC) to allow teachers to share and reflect on their practice and support each other's progress in applying new methodologies.
ATLAS I (2008-2009) was a pilot project, implemented in close collaboration with the local government and the district education officials. It targeted Grade 1-9 teachers in the Mumbwa District (central province, West of Lusaka). ATLAS II (2010-2011) was the follow-on project which continued work in Mumbwa District. A further 32 teachers from 7 core schools Makupi, Mwiimbi, Kawama, Mwembezhi, Shimbizhi, Nangoma, Mutombe Basic Schools in Mumbwa district were trained. Personnel from the local ministry of education were also in attendance and were trained in ATLAS methodologies as well as participation and assistance from 1 co-facilitator from the district who was part of the initial group trained in ATLAS I.
ATLAS III (2011-2014) was a scale up of the project to the Luangwa district of Zambia. 18 participants, including 5 school heads, 10 teachers and 3 ministry of education personnel were trained on ATLAS methodology. Upon conclusion of the initial training, the teachers were further expected to share the knowledge gained through a step down PD training in each of their individual schools through biweekly teacher group meetings (TGM's). Several of the trained teachers also had the opportunity to attend the 8th Pan-African Reading Conference in Nairobi, Kenya in August of 2013 and receive further ATLAS refresher and leadership training in July 2014.
Pan-African Reading for All Conference and Literacy Leaders Workshop in Kenya (2013)
In partnership with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, this grant brought 33 Literacy Leaders from 16 countries in Africa to participate in a 2-day Literacy Leaders Workshop and the ensuing Pan-African Reading for All Conference which was held August 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya. The workshop consisted of working groups focused on the post-2015 MDG discussion, professional development, reading association development, and community and national level strategic activity planning. Literacy Leaders then participated in the Pan-African Conference and presented on their activities and projects. Remaining funds from this grant were used to conduct local literacy projects through a small grants program to IRA members and affiliates in Africa who participated in the Pan-African activities.
African Educators Capacity Building Program (2009–2013)
Funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, this project sponsored selected African educators to attend the Pan-African Conference on Reading for All in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in August 2009, and to carry out targeted early grade reading activities upon their return to their home country. After participating in the conference and attending an intense 2-day pre-conference workshop to prepare them for the work to follow, the 16 Hewlett-IRA sponsored participants entered a competition to win small grants to carry out an early grade reading activity in their home countries. Each applicant designed and planned specific activities to respond to needs they identified in their home countries. Based on innovation, need, and technical quality of their proposals, four finalists were selected to receive a grant to carry out their individual projects. Pursuant to the awarding of these small grants, IRA and its vast network of literacy specialists around the globe provided technical guidance and oversight to the four grantees in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Uganda, and Zanzibar to support them in successfully operating their respective early grade reading activities in their home country. Remaining project funds were used by IRA's Mali Reading Association to carry out a teacher training workshop in Ségou, Mali, in September 2013. Association colleagues carried out a 5-day reading and writing workshop for approximately 30 primary teachers in this rural area.
Mauritius Diagnostic Teaching Program in ZEP Schools (2007–2010)
IRA collaborated with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) working in Mauritius to build local capacity for effective instruction in primary schools in Zones d'Education Prioritaire (ZEP). The program aimed to develop the capacities of teacher educators, head teachers, teachers, and parents to better support the learning of all pupils by December 2009. The program combined two powerful approaches—the Diagnostic Teaching program developed by technical experts from the International Reading Association and UNESCO, and the Program to Support for Underachieving Primary Schools. The aim was to combine these successful approaches to create a single intervention under the authority of the Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE) and in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, and to create a structure to sustain and support continuous education improvement in Mauritius. Evaluation data revealed a 90 percent satisfaction rate from the teachers trained in instructional practices and facilitators trained in organizational best practices. The diagnostic teaching strategies were adapted in 89 percent of the schools with positive feedback in transforming large classes into participatory ones with teacher monitoring of individual performance and assessing learning with the full support of local educational institutions.
Leaders in Literacy: Reading Across Continents/U.S. Department of State (2008–2010)
In partnership with the U.S. Department of State, this project aimed to use literature to connect adolescents in Washington, DC and Abuja, Nigeria. This program created literacy leaders through a unique experience that linked literacy to issues of culture and identity. Through a special curriculum, interactive communications, and a set of exchange activities, high school students in Washington, DC and their counterparts in secondary schools in Abuja, Nigeria used reading and writing in meaningful and useful ways. Activities included student visits to Nigeria and to the United States. The entire process was recorded in a documentary film which was to be aired in a number of different venues, including the DCPS station, in Abuja, Nigeria, local Maryland television station, on PBS 2008-2009 Season, and online. Students in Abuja and in Washington then used this film and their personal experiences in talks with their peers to stimulate motivation in reading while, at the same time, promoting cultural understanding between Nigerian students and students in the United States.
Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) Literacy Hub (2006–2008)
In partnership with USAID/EQUIP, the Literacy Hub is a resource developed over a series of discussions between representatives of the G8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and representatives of the countries making up the Broader Middle East and North Africa region (Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen). The Literacy Hub was designed to provide policymakers and program developers in the BMENA region with an extensive database of exemplary practices and programs in literacy. The database is a diverse collection of effective programs for achieving basic literacy, academic literacy, or everyday literacy. Several key IRA literacy experts were involved in reviewing the resources submitted on the database.
Capacity Building for Literacy Policy Development/UNESCO in Tanzania (2005–2009)
IRA was UNESCO-Tanzania's technical partner on this project where the Diagnostic Teaching Approach, previously field-tested in Ghana and Kenya, was first piloted in Tanzania. The Project aimed at strengthening key national educators' understanding of developmental literacy instruction and building Tanzanian institutions' capacity to integrate innovative literacy techniques into the national education policies and programs. In close collaboration with the Ministry of Education and UNESCO, IRA designed and implemented training and professional development activities based on the Diagnostic Teaching Approach and delivered to teacher training institutions. These activities introduced educators to reading and teaching techniques that are both innovative and adapted to the local context, through the project's four components: Teacher Education, Curriculum Development, Assessment, and Non-Formal/Adult Education. A national consultant team of government-based representatives developed recommendations for Tanzania's first literacy policy based on IRA's Diagnostic Teaching program and professional development workshops.
Research on the Teaching of Reading and Writing in the Content Areas (2005)
This collaborative project combined IRA education researchers from the University of British Columbia (Canada) and the University of Botswana in a study of teachers' knowledge, practice, and attitudes about teaching reading and writing strategies in the junior secondary level in public schools across Botswana. The researchers, commissioned by UNESCO, attempted to establish the impact of poor literacy instruction on students' ability to progress to senior secondary school or vocational programs. They created Improving the Quality of Literacy Learning in the Content Areas: Situational Analysis of Secondary Level Education in Botswana (PDF).
Diagnostic Teaching for Primary Schools and Literacy Sites in Ghana, Kenya, and Tanzania (2004–2005)
This multi-country project sponsored by UNESCO was implemented to provide classroom teachers (primary level) with a repertoire of easy to use classroom assessments for monitoring students' learning, drawing from IRA-UNESCO's Diagnostic Teaching Model. On another level this project was intended to help classroom teachers better articulate specific goals and long-term objectives for students' literacy development, to help teachers better articulate the process of literacy development and the connection between assessment and instruction. On a third level, these demonstration projects were intended to engage policymakers in discussions regarding the structural issues within the education system (teacher education, curricula, teacher standards, textbooks, and assessments) that either facilitate or impede the teaching of reading and writing. The program contributed significantly to the professional development of 129 teacher participants from 39 formal and non-formal school settings which impacted more than 15,000 students in the first year alone. A consultative meeting with UNESCO Dar es Salaam Ministry of Education representatives from assessment, curriculum, teacher training, and non-formal education divisions and 3 Teacher Training Colleges brought policy and practice in alignment and sparked the shaping of the future of literacy education.
Creating an Active Learning Environment in Multicultural Classrooms in Nigeria (2004)
This pilot project was supported by the World Bank's Civic Engagement, Empowerment, and Respect for Diversity (CEERD) initiative, in association with the Universal Basic Education Program and World Bank Nigeria Second Primary Education Project. The project combined professional development and action research in student-centered learning, with an emphasis on critical thinking, discussion of cultural diversity issues, multicultural literature, and building a sense of community and shared responsibility. Teacher educators from the Second Primary Education Project action research teams in the Imo, Osun, and Kaduna states, representing multiple ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, examined the adaptation of teaching methods for local classrooms. Using the Framework for Learning, the project increased motivation levels and enabled learners to develop strategies for inquiry, monitoring their own learning, and gaining deeper understanding of new literacy and analytical concepts, cooperative learning, and strategies for fostering higher order thinking.