We believe all children have the right to a quality education in a language they know and understand.
What we're doing
Mango Tree’s Northern Uganda Literacy Program is working in the Lango and Kumam language communities. Our goal is to improve early primary literacy, both in the local language and English. We have four key outcomes:
1. Competently trained teachers
Teachers must know their language well enough to teach it. We train teachers in the basics of their spelling system and grammar so they can teach effectively and confidently in the local language.
Teachers must also acquire a set of simple, systematic and effective methods for teaching reading and writing that can work in a classroom with 100 children and limited resources. We train teachers during the three school holidays and follow up with in-school monitoring and regular Saturday in-service trainings.
2. A package of effective, affordable instructional resources
Teaching children to read and write is challenging, but the tools required need not be complex or expensive. The key to our set of resources is the teacher’s guide. It provides teachers with a clear structure for teaching every lesson. Every pupil receives a primer and a supplemental reader each term. In P1 pupils also receive a slate. All of our instructional materials have been developed by local writers and illustrators and are printed locally.
3. A comprehensive assessment model
Our model supports the Ugandan Ministry of Education’s competency-based curriculum. Pupils have well defined literacy competences to attain each term and our lesson plans ensure that each day the teacher has time to directly assess about 10% of the class. We provide teachers with a continuous assessment monitoring form for daily tracking as well as end-of-term assessment tests. We have also designed a termly literacy report card for parents to keep them informed of their children’s progress toward meeting the literacy competences for the term.
“If you don’t have a language, then you don’t belong anywhere because language is an instrument of belonging.”
– Dennis Akaa
4. Community support for local language literacy
District education offices, primary teacher colleges, language boards and cultural organizations each have an official role to play in ensuring that children learn to read and write in their mother tongue. Our project clarifies responsibilities and provides training where capacity gaps exist.
Parents need to understand the important role they play in children’s literacy. They also need to have a basic understanding of government policies related to early primary literacy and why these policies are good for their sons and daughters. Each term our project schools have parental involvement activities that educate parents and provide them with tools to assess their pupils’ progress. In this way they can make a meaningful contribution to their children’s literacy.
We also want the general community to be excited and interested in their language and in the development of local language literature. We sponsor a weekly radio show and an annual literature event. We identify and train talented writers, illustrators, editors and designers. We are also investigating ways to foster local language publishing in order to sustain the long-term development of a reading and writing culture.