As reported previously in our newsletter, Lubuto has received a grant from the All Children Reading partnership to develop our LubutoLiteracy program. This could not come at a better time for Zambian children, since the government has recently announced that all teaching in schools up to Grade 4 should be done in local languages. So, being able to access the LubutoLiteracy lessons and learn to read in any one of the seven major languages in Zambia can only help children to learn more effectively - and, of course, research has proven that learning to read in one's mother tongue is the best way to improve literacy levels in general. May 10th saw our launch event at Ngwerere Lubuto Library, and what a day it was! We could not have anticipated the hoards of children who would be in attendance to celebrate the success of their beloved library through drums, dancing, drama, music, speeches and of course food! A number of VIP guests, including a representative from the Ministry of Education, Skills, Vocational Training and Early Education attended, and were impressed not only by our holistic approach to library provision in general but by the demonstrations of the LubutoLiteracy programs specifically. Our team of young facilitators and program developers, who have undergone training in OLPC laptop maintenance and programming, were on hand to showcase their knowledge and explain the program to visitors.
The highlight of the day had to be the award presentations to those children who had managed to complete all 100 literacy lessons in one of the languages during the pre-launch testing phase (and many are now starting to learn to read in another language). The joy and pride on the children's faces as they collected their new school bags - complete with treasured Lubuto badge - from our dignitaries (and on those of their parents, siblings and friends who joined them) was a heart warming sight which I am sure will not be forgotten by any of our guests for a long time.
The good news is that, as we develop the program, it will become more widely accessible, more user friendly, and have even more educational value - so children all across Zambia (and beyond!) will be able to use it to improve their literacy skills and give themselves the best possible chance in life. As the children sang today - "It's our time to bring change" - and the LubutoLiteracy program is certainly changing children's lives.