As the 2016-17 school year began last week, I spent some time reflecting on the summer months along with A to Z’s work in Zambia this past June. A wonderful memory that continues to linger in my mind is our day of professional development with 150 Zambian teachers at School of Hope.
Teachers from all over the area came together to learn and grow; men and women wanting to make a difference in the lives of their students. Dave, Betty and I provided teachers with opportunities to attend sessions on reading, writing, asking questions, and literacy in content areas. There was something for everyone.
Without a doubt, I am confident that A to Z is continuing to impact the lives of Zambian students and teachers. Although our nonprofit is small, our educational impact is large. By providing valuable support, we have increased literacy levels and the love of reading within schools and communities.
“Having worked with A to Z Literacy since building our literacy school, Shine Zambia Reading Academy in 2009, I know personally how much their help has contributed to the success of our school. Not just support through financial sponsorship of teachers’ allowances and pupil lunches, or through books donated and shipped to Zambia to stock our school library, but in the training provided to our teachers. This training has been given by Mal and various volunteers who have sacrificed their time to work with our teachers for around a week almost every summer for the past 5 years.
I wanted to find out first hand how A to Z and its visits to our school over the years have impacted our teachers, so I asked them. Upon my request, our teachers had a meeting to discuss it and wrote back to me with feedback. The teachers unanimously agreed that they had all been greatly impacted by the A to Z training sessions and feel their teaching style has improved. They specifically mentioned the strategies they were taught for reading with pupils, improving pupil writing skills and conducting group discussions in class. Here’s a quote from our Head Teacher, David Mulenga, about writing strategies: “We were particularly astounded at how well our own Year 2 pupils were able to write, all by themselves. We learned this particularly from Dave. He would show them a picture card and ask them to say what they can see from it and he wrote those things on the blackboard. He would then ask the pupils to write their own stories about any of those things written on the board. Wow! It was amazing to see the ideas that came from the children!”
We truly appreciate A to Z Literacy’s guidance over the years in making our literacy program even stronger and we hope to continue working in partnership for many years to come.” – Vineet Bhatnagar
Without you, we would not be able to meet our goals of promoting literacy to students in Zambia and providing professional development to teachers where the need is substantial. Thank you for understanding the mission of global literacy and the importance of reading.
Yes, I wish to make a special year-end gift to help get books into the hands of children who want read. (click here)
A to Z Literacy Movement, Inc is a non-profit 501c3 organization. Your tax-deductible contribution will help promote literacy and increase the love of reading for children living in poverty-stricken areas.
By Mal Keenan
There is power in a box of books.
Books can make a difference in a child’s life and within his community.
Books can raise reading levels and graduation rates. Books can help solve old problems and create critical thinkers.
As we continue to grow our organization, books remain at the center. We will always be working to get books onto shelves, into homes and classrooms, and in the hands of impoverished children.
“When I think back on all the refugee camps I visited, all over the world, the people always asked for the same thing: books. Sometimes even before medicine or shelter- they wanted books for their children.”
-Mary Anne Schwalbe, Founder Women’s Commission for Refugee Woman and Children
Mal and Jonathan
By Mal Keenan
8:30 am Chicago time. 4:30 pm Zambia time.
Calling Zambians is such a treat for me. Yes, it’s hard to sometimes hear students and teachers talking. Yes, I find myself saying “Excuse me? Can you repeat that?” because of the background noise or accent. Yes, it’s tricky when cell phones are turned off for a day (or two) and you get the same message over and over again. But then there’s that moment when I hear “Hello, Teacher Mal”. Honestly, it never gets old.
This morning, Betty and I talked with Jonathan, a Shine Reading Academy graduate, who has been on our radar for the last four years. He attended Shine for two years, went on to another community school, and has now applied to Munali Secondary School as a sophomore at the age of fifteen. This young man is such a success story as so many teens in Zambia remain in grades sixth, seventh, and eighth as they are unable to pass the Ministry of Education mandated exams. Jonathan is forging ahead and has a goal in mind. He wants to complete his high school academics in Zambia and then travel to the United States for college. He is motivated. He is committed. He is a force.
A to Z believes in Jonathan and will be providing funds to cover the cost of his tuition at this government (public) school. If you would like to make a small donation in honor of Jonathan, please visit our website at www.atozliteracy.org and hit the donate button. He is a ray of hope – shining bright – in our eyes.