In Uganda, few schools have libraries and around 20% of the population is functionally illiterate. Poverty also remains stubbornly high – particularly in rural regions.
Education is vital to ensuring that the next generation can build a brighter, more prosperous future, and that is why we have partnered with Book Aid International to improve literacy in 10 primary schools in Eastern Uganda through our Shared Reading project.
About Shared Reading
The shared reading technique involves pairing stronger readers with weaker readers. Together, the students read selected books every week basis, improving one and other’s reading fluency and comprehension.
The Shared Reading project aims to equip teachers and teacher-librarians in all participating schools with the skills and resources they need to implement this technique in their schools.
In every school, we provided 650 brand new, UK donated books as well as an additional collection of between 65 and 75 locally purchased books, a specially developed guide on how to run Shared Reading and a three day training course to train teachers in how to implement Shared Reading in their schools.
During the final evaluation, several positive findings from the project were observed. Regular Shared Reading lessons had been implemented in all schools. Throughout the entirety of the project the weekly lessons and teachings were continued. Student attendance at lessons was high overall, with only a small number dropping out due to moving schools. This consistency and regularity in Shared Reading lessons led to positive outcomes for children.
The children who took part in Shared Reading lessons demonstrated significant improvements in their comprehension, fluency and literacy. Moreover, the children’s confidence vastly increased. This was fuelled by the one to one attention received in the Shared Reading lessons, the additional support, teaching and practice in reading, and the children’s partnering. These elements combined boosted the children’s confidence and self-belief. This impacted positively on children’s attendance and motivation at school more widely. It had also positively affected learning in other curriculum subjects and children were showing application of their improved reading skills outside school, through reading road signs, reading at church and reading to help their parents with practical tasks.
Teachers also felt that they had benefited from their involvement in the Shared Reading project. They reported that the training they had received and the experience in running Shared Reading had helped them to improve their confidence and skills in teaching reading. They could see the benefits of these teaching methods and some had started to employ them in other lessons too. Self-evaluation scores also showed clear increases in teacher confidence and skills after the training workshop.
School libraries were being used and the new donated books were being borrowed and enjoyed by children. There were cases of schools deciding to expand their libraries further since receiving the books and it was felt that the school library was playing a key role in promoting a culture of reading at the school. The libraries were also helping to build the reputation of schools more widely amongst the community and education services.
Our Shared Reading project motivated and encouraged schools to think further about how to apply more widely what they have learned through the project with teachers speaking enthusiastically about rolling out Shared Reading to the rest of their school. Hopefully the impact of our project will have a multitude of long-term benefits as the lessons are passed on from learner to learner an teachers shape their lesson plans accordingly.