Nuru Education Team Remains Focused on Their Literacy Goal
As the start of Term 2 approaches in Kenya, the Nuru Education team is poised for success and continued impact. The team has generated considerable momentum this year under the strong leadership of Victoria Tissian and Jimmy Leak. George Nyamweya’s move from a Field Manager to the team’s Training Manager has enabled us to take huge strides on the curriculum and professional development fronts. We are now benefiting from the perspective of our new District Manager, George Baridi as well. With this outstanding management team, we are making marked progress toward our goal of increasing Standard 2 literacy levels.
With the start of Term 2, we will implement a qualitative measurement system to track student progress as well as monitor our team’s delivery of lesson content and their interactions with students. We will use this information to further improve the content of our programs as well as the quality of instruction and student engagement. We will also be working to share our approaches with the school administrators and teachers more actively over the coming months.
A reflection on our goal
The Nuru education program aims to increase basic literacy levels among primary school-aged children living in rural areas and experiencing extreme poverty. We target Standard 2 literacy levels; most countries worldwide agree that children should have developed basic literacy by the completion of their second year in primary school. We work to fill the gap in Standard 2 literacy attainment that exists within public schools throughout rural communities experiencing extreme poverty.
The Standard 2 literacy level represents the level at which children “read to learn” and develop independent literacy skills. Achieving the Standard 2 level ensures basic literacy is instilled for life. Basic literacy enables students to understand lessons across disciplines and perform better across the board, increasing the likelihood that they will complete primary school and progress to secondary school. Basic literacy also contributes to more engaged community members and parents, more informed adults and individuals who are equipped with the fundamental skills they need to become life-long, independent learners.
Our goal is to raise Standard 2 levels through targeted instruction in the essential components of reading, writing and oral language. Reading proficiency includes phonological and phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and text comprehension, as identified by the National Reading Panel (2000). Many literacy interventions overlook oral proficiency, believing that it naturally stems from the development of reading and writing skills. Nuru differs in this regard and is supported by recent research. As stated by The National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth, “instruction in the key components of reading is necessary – but not sufficient – for teaching language-minority children to read and write proficiently in English. Oral proficiency in English is critical as well – but student performance suggests that it is often overlooked in instruction.” (August & Shanahan, 2006, p.4)
We aim to bring high-quality literacy development interventions to rural primary schools as a supplement to existing language development efforts. The Nuru outreach program focuses on creating an engaging and enriching learning environment that is facilitated by a teacher trained in student-centered learning.