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LEMA - Literacy Education and Math Lab-

Play-based and flexible model to develop fundamental and fundational skills for life long learning

There is ample evidence that suggests that students who do not make good initial progress in learning to read, find it increasingly difficult to master the process. LEMA addresses this challenge by ensuring that all children from 1st to 4th grade are able to read and write. We do this using a flexible play based model that can be used in and out of school settings.

HundrED 2019


HundrED has selected this innovation to

HundrED 2019

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Target group
June 2018

About the innovation

What is LEMA - Literacy Education and Math Lab-

LEMA -Laboratorio de Lectura, Escritura y Matemática - (Literacy Education and Math Lab), is a model that supports school age children 1st to 4th grade. The model also provides much needed support to school teachers by bringing Learning Coaches every day for an hour to play, share, develop and create knowledge in 5 important areas: reading, writing, math, reflection and relationships. The LEMAs are not calendar based and can take place in or out of the school. However, partnerships with schools and education departments allow for better continuity, greater reach, stronger support for children and overall better results. 

Why children 1st to 4th grade? Because there is ample evidence that suggests that students who do not make good initial progress in learning to read, find it increasingly difficult to master the process. These children will tend to fall into a downward spiral, in which initial lack of success in reading can develop into broader cognitive deficits, making school dropout more likely to occur and becoming a barrier for personal, social and economic prosperity. In the case of girls, their vulnerability increases two-fold due to the gender disparities that continue to permeate our society.

LEMAs are coordinated by trained “Learning Coaches” (LCs) who can be teachers, mothers, grandparents, community leaders. Fully literate children and youth can also be LCs. The LCs are hired, either in a paid or a volunteer capacity, to perform a very important job: motivate and inspire the learning process, and create a safe space for children to learn at their own pace.  

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability


Learning to read and write goes beyond phonics and word recognition. Our model has developed a careful process that takes the learner in a journey of discovery and is asked to use, develop and achieve higher order thinking skills. Through teacher training, technical assistance and by providing effective and innovative learning tools tested for 35 years in multicultural settings, we offer children, youth and adults the opportunity to acquire the fundamental and necessary tools for lifelong learning and to become agents of change in their lives, families and communities.


Literacy4All has its roots in the pedagogical models developed by Javier González Quintero, who sees play as a powerful learning tool that not only provides intrinsic motivation but also returns the control of the learning process to the learner. His model has proven to be a scalable, cost-effective and replicable social innovation, able to address systemic educational issues that include: poor quality education, lack of trained teachers, poor infrastructure and high dropout rates.

Our model reduces, at least by half, the time needed to learn basic reading, writing and math. Learning these skills has traditionally required one year or longer. In fact, research has found that in some instances, children in low-income countries do not acquire basic literacy skills even after completing four years of schooling. Our model allows for effective learning of these basic skills in a period of 4 to 6 months.


LEMA can be adapted quickly to the needs of diverse populations and socio-cultural contexts. It is portable, requires no electricity, no batteries, no specific infrastructure or installations. It allows for the establishment of flexible schedules based on the participants' needs. Informal classrooms or temporary schools in areas of conflict or natural disaster can be quickly established. Educational agents can quickly and effectively be trained to successfully provide fundamental educational needs. We have worked globally, check out the organizations we have collaborated with: http://www.literacy4all.org/what-we-do.html

Implementation steps

Partner with us

We partner with local organisations to develop a plan able to address the needs and challenges of the context, while taking advantage of the resources already available in the community. 

Plan together
We need funds to recruit and train Learning Coaches in the community. We also need funding for program coordination and for games and materials. If funds are not available, we work with partners to seek and secure funding.
Train and Develop Human Capital
Training is key. In many of the contexts we work, teachers are not existent or not fully prepared. In addition to providing Professional Development to teachers, we train Learning Coaches. These are community members that have the desire to build and support their communities, we provide training to ensure the learning coaching offered provides efficient, effective and enjoyable results. 
After training, Learning Coaches are placed at schools or centers previously identified in the community. At these locations, play based learning sessions will take place for a minimum of (one cycle) 6 months. We support the effort from beginning to end, by offering continuos technical assistance to the program. 
Looking for impactful projects to support financially?

We have projects in Colombia, Guatemala, Perú, East Timor, India, and Bangladesh seeking funding. 

We would love your support! 

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