'Early Mother Tongue Literacy for Sustainable Development in Sub-Saharan Africa'
Knowledge Exchange Fellow
Professor (emeritus) Suzanne Romaine
South African Insitute for Distance Education
This project will develop a mutually beneficial partnership with NGO Saide (South African Institute for Distance Education) to contribute research expertise to the African Storybook Project (ASP), to provide stories in local (and other) languages to assist children to read initially in their own languages and develop multilingual literacy. Almost half of primary school-aged children in sub-Saharan Africa reach adolescence without achieving basic literacy and numeracy skills. Because children can more easily learn to read in a language they know, mother tongue literacy represents the best foundation for acquiring proficiency levels needed for understanding school materials, and learning additional languages to access wider opportunities and participate in life beyond their communities. Literacy in local languages is key to sustainable development because literacy is a core component of the right to education and an indispensable prerequisite to lifelong learning. ASP will rely on open access and innovative digital publishing models to promote use of stories and encourage development of new reading practices in classrooms and communities beginning in 2014 with 3 pilot countries - Kenya, Uganda and South Africa.