Children reading, Matau Primary School, Zimbabwe - One.org
ZIMBABWE LITERACY PROJECT
For the past 50 years, English has been called the lingua franca of Zimbabwe. The education system is even built on that assumption. Lessons are supposed to be administered in English because all National Examinations are set in English.
Yet, about 70% of Zimbabwean children who enter a first-grade classroom - most of whom attend under-funded rural schools- speak one of the 15 indigenous languages at home, and not English. And yet, they are immediately expected to start learning how to read and write in a language they have never heard, spoken or seen before. In fact, the transition to reading and writing in English is almost impossible because their only interaction with the language is limited to the classroom. It’s not just their literacy that is impacted, but other subject such as mathematics, science, geography depend on a good knowledge of English.
To try and make the transition easier, Zimbabwe recently instituted an education policy change; All early grades will now be taught in the language common to the different linguistic regions. Research shows that a good literacy grounding in the mother tongue facilitates easier learning of any additional languages. The problem the government now faces is where to source the books in indigenous languages.
WHAT WE ARE DOING ABOUT IT
We create, print and distribute engaging and affordable storybooks, for children between the ages of 4 and 7, in all of Zimbabwe’s 16 languages. As opposed to the players currently in the Zimbabwean publishing industry, we are offering books that have a strong entertainment value in addition to their educational merit. So not only will children want to read our books, they will learn something while they are at it.
What we are offering is a solution that allows all children a fair chance at a good education, something which will mean better economic prospects for them on an individual level and for the country in general. Our books are also helping preserve the indigenous languages of Zimbabwe. It's a pretty good deal if you ask us :)
HOW YOU CAN HELP?
While, in the long run, we are looking to sell our books directly through the Ministry of Education, we are looking to kick-start our operations through individual sales. Buy a copy of one of our books for your daughter or nephew who has never heard of Zimbabwe, or buy a copy for the child in Zimbabwe whose parents may not be able to afford one. Or buy two copies for them both? We can never have too many readers in this world. If you'd like to buy two books, just select the option at check out and we will make sure your gift gets into the right hands. Leave us your email and we will keep you updated with stories and images from the happy reader who benefits from your generosity.
If you'd rather donate directly, just click the button below.