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The books that will transform Uganda’s children

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Added 12th April 2016 10:58 AM

We were gathered at a warehouse location in Ntinda to witness the handover of national early grade reading materials and flag-off of the last batch of 1.5million copies of these books going to primary schools in Uganda.

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Saaeda Prew is Chief of Party of the USAID/Uganda School Health and Reading Programme

We were gathered at a warehouse location in Ntinda to witness the handover of national early grade reading materials and flag-off of the last batch of 1.5million copies of these books going to primary schools in Uganda.


By Saaeda Prew

As the children of St John Bosco Katende Primary School broke into the words of the National Anthem, I felt the hope that comes with being so close to the enthusiasm and optimism of young people.

We were gathered at a warehouse location in Ntinda to witness the handover of national early grade reading materials and flag-off of the last batch of 1.5million copies of these books going to primary schools in Uganda.

These Early Grade Reading books for learners as well as teacher guides, are all developed under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded School Health and Reading Programme that will also be used by the USAID/ Uganda Literacy Achievement and Retention Activity.

Many words of hope and encouragement were spoken that morning, echoing the hopes of these children and millions of others countrywide.

Both these USAID funded programmes are implemented by RTI International in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Sports (MoESTS), to increase government capacity to deliver early grade literacy through the Global Partnership for Education in Uganda Teacher and School Effectiveness Project.
Developing these books has been an intensive three year process of research, drafting, testing, and revision.

As the Primary Education State Minister John C. Muyingo said that day, when children start reading early in life they are more successful later on in life because they can read better and with more understanding.

The books were approved by the National Curriculum Development Centre and are written in 12 local languages and in English for primary 1-4. Introducing young children to reading in the languages that they are most familiar with makes it easier for them to adopt a reading culture that facilitates reading in a second language for example in English by the time they reach primary 4.

In addition to early grade reading, the USAID programmes are also working to increase retention in school in the primary grades, through working with teachers, learners, parents and communities to develop a more positive and supportive school climate.

As emphasised by the U.S. Ambassador, Deborah R. Malac, early grade reading is fundamental to success in school and in future life and we know that those books will make a world of a difference to millions of children in Uganda!

The key messages we want all children, teachers and parents to take from this event is  that early grade reading is the foundation of success in school and in life. Children learn to read better, faster and with more understanding when they learn to read in their mother tongue, which helps them to transition to a second language (English) by the time they reach Primary four (4).

It is indisputable that a positive and supportive school climate, without corporal punishment, bullying, or verbal and physical abuse, leads to more children staying in school and creates the opportunity for learning.

The writer is Chief of Party of the USAID/Uganda School Health and Reading Programme

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