In March 2020 we had begun an interim assessment of Standard 1 (Year 1) children’s progress at each of the 10 schools taking part in our literacy intervention…
Despite having evidenced significant progress of over 430% improvement on the baseline in the first year (2018-19) we were blown away in March 2020 by the phenomenal progress of the second cohort of CharChar supported learners. These children were now evidencing an even steeper trajectory and were on course to supersede the achievements of the previous cohort (pilot year) by quite a margin.
Of course there are a number of reasons for this, not least the fact that the literacy programme had been in implementation at the schools for over a year, so staff and the wider community were more accepting of the new methods and practices etc.
However, you can imagine the crushing sense of disappointment and worry we all felt as the pandemic reached Malawi and all schools had to be closed.
We soon realised that we needed to find other ways of supporting the government’s education policies and aims to ensure that Malawian children have access to quality education.
Understanding the already urgent need to advance literacy acquisition for primary school children and realising the negative consequences of school closures on children’s ability to learn we switched focus and began to develop an important partnership with Emmanual University in Lilongwe, the country’s foremost teacher training institution.
Throughout the year and into 2021 we also continued to support past and present CharChar trained teachers as they struggled to cope with the many challenges thrown up by Covid-19. Challenges such as; reduced class sizes meaning teaching in shifts, ad-hoc school closures, staff shortages due to illness and trying to maintain basic Covid-19 prevention measures within schools, all whilst trying to continue to teach huge numbers of children in extremely resource poor environments.
Through Whatsapp mentoring and coaching, psycho-social support and donations of educational resources we have tried to keep our vision of accelerated literacy acquisition alive and a reality for as many children as possible, whilst continuing to develop our partnership with Emanuel University in the background and maintaining a presence with government and all major stakeholders.
CharChar has been part of the Covid-19 Emergency Response Education Cluster since the outbreak of the pandemic and continues to collaborate with all partners and stakeholders in primary education in Malawi.
With your continued support we aim to bring these new teaching methods to accelerate literacy acquisition into teacher training institutions. Providing a live demonstration to government the true potential of Malawian children and their dedicated teachers.