USAID’s “Let’s Read” project, the US government’s flagship education project in Zambia, has developed audio-based “Tips for Teachers”, among others, to ensure continued literacy instructional and professional support for teachers and learners.

According to a statement released by US Embassy Public Affairs Officer Sean McIntosh, Tuesday, the new audio-based programmes have been launched in collaboration with and in support of the Ministry of General Education’s (MoGE) response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The programmes, which include “Folktales for Students”, are an initiative provided through Interactive Radio Instruction, an approach that uses radio broadcasts of pre-recorded, interactive lessons to reach students, teachers, and parents to ensure continued literacy instructional and professional support for teachers and learners amid COVID-19.

Commenting on the launch, Ministry of General Education Permanent Secretary Dr Jobbicks Kalumba observed that teaching and learning could no longer be confined to the conventional classroom environment, particularly amid the COVID-19 outbreak, which had resulted in mass school closures, leaving an unprecedented number of children stuck at home.

“Teaching and learning can no longer be confined to the classroom situation, particularly during this COVID-19 pandemic. We need, therefore, to devise new and better ways to reach out to our learners,” said Dr Kalumba in the statement.

“With support from our cooperating partners, like USAID, the Ministry will ensure that teachers are assisted in every way possible for them to be more skillful and innovative.”

And US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires David Young added that the innovation arrived at the right time to enhance learning for young students.

“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on education, the U.S. government remains committed to ensuring that the support to the Ministry of General Education continues, particularly our assistance to early-grade reading and teacher professional development,” said Young.

“Worldwide, countries are working tirelessly to develop distance learning for students, and Zambia is no exception. This innovation has come at the right time as it offers an opportunity for teachers and students to continue the learning process during this difficult time.”

The programmes were developed in partnership with the Ministry of General Education’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) Centres, which focus on Grade one through Grade three, and will offer an innovative distance-learning solution for students and teachers in the five USAID Let’s Read target provinces—Eastern, Muchinga, North-Western, Southern, and Western.

The US Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) “Let’s Read” is currently working with the Ministry’s ECE programme to develop and record additional Interactive Audio Instruction materials to be released in early next year.

With US government funding of approximately K875 million (US $48 million) over a five-year period, USAID “Let’s Read” is the US government’s flagship education project in Zambia, which was launched in January, 2019.

The project aims to improve reading outcomes for 1.4 million Zambian children in over 4,200 public and community schools, and help ensure that learners read with comprehension and fluency in one of Zambia’s seven official local languages.