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Read Smart

location_on Zambia

Read Smart: A Mouth-Chart Phonics Program to Teach Early Literacy

Read Smart is an innovative project to combat COVID-19 learning loss and improve early literacy outcomes based on the use of phonetic charts, illustrating the mouth positions associated with each sound. External assessment data showed the proportion of our first grade students at desirable / outstanding levels was 75%, compared to only 32-35% nationwide.

Overview

HundrED shortlisted this innovation

HundrED has shortlisted this innovation to one of its innovation collections. The information on this page has been checked by HundrED.

2021

Established

1 000

Children/users

1

Countries
Organisation
Not-for-profit
Target group
Students
Updated
October 5th, 2022
Before Read Smart, most teachers did not believe it's possible for young pupils to learn how to read, since it is not commonly seen. Now they see pupils can definitely learn to read, even in Grade 1.
Purity Kalenge, Guidance Counselor, Impact Network

About the innovation

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Why did you create this innovation?

Education quality in rural Zambia has been dismal, especially in regards to literacy. A recent assessment by USAID-funded Let’s Read Zambia shows that 70% of Grade 1-3 students performed at minimum or below minimum levels of proficiency in literacy. Delays in the age and grade at which students attain functional literacy skills make future primary years that much more challenging.

How does your innovation work in practice?

Read Smart is a literacy intervention for early grade learning based on the use of phonetic charts, illustrating the mouth positions associated with each sound. The majority of Zambian children are taught how to read by memorization but Read Smart focuses on using visual aids to teach children how letters sound. It is an explicit phonics program where sound-spelling relationships are directly taught and applied.

The project consists of a preparation period followed by 4 phases of 10 weeks each. In phase 1, students complete activities explicitly connecting mouth charts and letter sounds to accurately pronounce letter sounds. During phase 2, letters are connected to the sounds they make and students learn to read basic words. In phase 3, students practice writing and reading lower case letters with a focus on reading simple sentences. Last, in the final phase, students read basic stories with simple words.

How has it been spreading?

We are scaling Read Smart to 8 Impact schools and almost 1,000 students in 2022. Additionally, we will work within Eastern Province to expand to 3,000 students in early childhood centers, community schools, and government schools in 2023. We want to explore adapting to 1-2 other Zambian languages (Bemba or Tonga) within the next three years. The pilot results indicate that the program is successful at improving literacy outcomes across a diverse audience including both boys and girls, very low income levels, and for students entering school with high academic needs. An external assessment allowed us to compare pilot schools with a national dataset; after the pilot, the proportion of first grade students at desirable / outstanding levels was 75%, compared to 32-35% nationwide.

If I want to try it, what should I do?

Please reach out to info@impactnetwork.org to learn more

Spread of the innovation

This innovation is being used in the following countries and regions

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