Online Program

Creating materials and access for African children to learn to read: The African storybook project

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 10:50 a.m. - 11:10 a.m.

Judith Baker, African Storybook Project, Dorchester, MA
Health care and basic literacy are closely related, especially in Africa. Although the percent of African children attending school has grown tremendously, in part because of the Millennium Development Goal of universal free primary education by 2015 universally adopted in Africa, the proportion of children actually becoming literate is as low as 20% in some countries and higher than 65% in few. Far too many children cannot learn the basic science to understand modern health and health care, and most adults cannot read materials they receive from a clinic or medical office. One key reason for this is that there are few or no early reading books available in most parts of the African continent - particularly in non-European languages. Children tend to enter school without the 'school readiness' skills which are the foundation for learning to read text, such things as being able to identify shapes and colors, identifying letter shapes, matching sounds and letters, and using graphic images for motivation. Another reason is that teachers, faced with this school 'unreadiness' and also with curriculum coverage pressure and lack of text materials, feel forced to resort to 'rote' learning or memorization of content, thus providing children with little time to practice with texts even if they have them. The African Storybook is building a continent wide network to create enough appropriate children's early reading to move from scarcity to abundance, and to promote access through digital platforms, from phones to computers or whatever comes next.

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Analyze why African child literacy has been systemically and institutionally stunted; how the African Storybook Project will provide the missing appropriate texts and the access to them that can support activists and educators working for equality in literacy in Africa; and create appropriate learning materials for first readers

Keyword(s): Community Education, Literacy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the originator of and the Literacy Consultant to the African Storybook Project, a large international early literacy effort based in Johannesburg South Africa, and I have worked on literacy efforts in many African nations since 1997 which have led to the creation of this new project. I have 34 years of teaching experience in public education in Boston as well.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.