By Adesina Wahab
The United States Agency for International Development, USAID, and the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council, NERDC, have jointly launched the new Igbo and Yoruba early grade reading materials titled Ka anyi gụo! and Jẹ ká kawe! respectively.
These resources expand the availability of quality local language teaching and learning materials for reading in Nigeria, targeting all Igbo and Yoruba speaking primary grade 1 to 3 learners in the Southern regions.
“Teaching children to read in a language they understand equips them with a powerful tool for lifelong learning,” USAID Mission Director, Anne Patterson, said in a virtual launch ceremony.
“Building foundational reading skills accelerates English language acquisition and other skills and contributes to developing a new generation of leaders equipped to help Nigeria meet the challenges ahead.”
Developed by the Research and Development Council with support from the USAID Northern Education Initiative (NEI) Plus activity, the new Igbo and Yoruba curricula will be available for any interested state to adopt, print, and distribute with their own resources.
The curriculum is tailored for a 21st Century audience of emerging readers, rich with culturally relevant stories, colourful pictures, gender-balanced representation, and a clear sequence of content that gradually builds upon the abilities of each learner as new skills and proficiencies are acquired.
“Let’s Read” promotes active learner engagement, comprehension and critical thinking through three levels of instruction that ensure learners develop critical skills necessary for all aspiring readers: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
The comprehensive curriculum package includes learner textbooks and workbooks, teachers’ guides, and storybooks for practice in school or at home, all available at no expense for download.
Bauchi and Sokoto, the first two states supported by NEI Plus, remain positive models and resources for states recently adopting an evidence-based early grade reading curriculum.
Since October 2015, NEI Plus has delivered over seven million teaching and learning materials to more than one million primary grade 1 through 3 learners in 2,500 formal schools.
In his remarks, the Minister of State for Education, Chief Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, thanked USAID and others for the initiative.
“The Federal Ministry of Education recognizes efforts of the project in the last four years to improve literacy in Northern Nigeria through its innovative early grade reading program (Let’s Read! Mu Karanta!). I am aware that USAID-NEI Plus has improved reading skills for more than 952,565 pupils, trained 9600 teachers, and distributed more than 6 million teaching and learning materials to schools.
“About 262,793 out-of-school children from educationally disadvantaged communities have improved their basic and literacy skills and mainstreamed to formal schools after completing a nine-month non-formal education programme.
“Working closely with the agencies of the Federal Ministry of Education, the USAID-NEI Plus is supporting the institutionalization of early grade reading in Nigeria. The Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) is leading the development of a National Reading Framework to guide the implementation of early grade reading programs in the country.
“Across all major agencies of the Federal Ministry of Education, including the ministry itself, we are building national expertise for early grade reading through a four-month postgraduate course through which 42 education professionals from states and Federal MDAs have graduated.
“The Federal Ministry of Education under the leadership of the Minister of Education Mallam Adamu Adamu has recorded several strides in its efforts to improve the quality of education in Nigeria. (school feeding program, teacher training, online learning, Radio/Tv instruction during and after COVID-19.
“In this last year of NEI Plus, we are ready to consolidate and sustain gains made on the USAID-NEI Plus project beyond the two states of Bauchi and Sokoto. I am happy to hear that seven states have adopted the project’s literacy program through the World-Bank Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA),” he said.