Describe your idea in fewer than 50 words.
Breakthrough to Literacy is an extremely effective literacy methodology that responds to curriculum and educational contexts, ensuring that it achieves results both with the children, who become literate within the first year of schooling and with their teachers, who develop skill in early literacy pedagogy and classroom management.
What makes your idea unique?
The fact that Breakthrough works in the children’s mothertongue and combines the key elements of early literacy pedagogy into one programme that is relevant to the life and language experiences of African children is the key factor. Another essential element of its uniqueness and success is that the teacher training gives the tools to successfully empower children with literacy, even in the most crowded and most poorly resourced classroom.
What is your area of work? (Please check as many as apply.)
Children & Youth
, Early childhood development
, Poverty alleviation
, Arts and culture
What impact have you had?
Breakthrough to Literacy is an initial literacy programme that enables Grade One children to be able to express themselves orally with confidence and to read and write in the first year of schooling. The methodology uses a balanced approach in the medium of children’s mothertongue. It incorporates elements of Language Experience Approach, Look and Say strategies, phonics and access to early books. To date Breakthrough, which is a mothertongue programme has been translated into more than 50 African languages.
Breakthrough is not a new idea – it has been achieving success in early literacy classroom.
Breakthrough is not a new idea – it has been achieving success in early literacy classrooms in Africa since 1975. However, its claim to innovation and uniqueness has been its responsiveness and adaptability to context. In each different country that the methodology has been used, a central principle has been to work with the Ministries of Education so that they can adapt it to suit their own curricula, cultural and socio-economic context.
Hence the methodology has been as successful with the marginalized San people of the Kalahari and the deep rural children in all the countries mentioned above as it has been the urbanized school children of Lusaka, Johannesburg and Maseru.
Another key strength of Breakthrough to Literacy is the integral elements of teacher training. It is often assumed in the schooling system is African countries that early literacy teaching is an easy task and one that is therefore assigned to the least experienced teachers. There teachers are then largely unsupported and having to contend with large classes and poor if any resources. Hence demoralization sets in Breakthrough restores teachers’ pride in their own competence because the methodology centres on providing teacher with strongly scaffolded training and classroom follow-up and a methodology that truly works.
Describe the primary problem(s) that your project is addressing.
Poor performance of children throughout the schooling system, based on a lack of ability to read that its roots in poor reading pedagogy in the early years of schooling. The additional primary problem that Breakthrough address is the need to teacher training in early literacy that is clear, easy to follow, responsive to context and that produces results.
Describe the steps that your organization is taking to make your project successful.
Breakthrough to Literacy is a flagship programme of our organization; Molteno Institute for Langauge and Literacy is both a service delivery and a research organization and we endeavour at all times to evaluate our impact and improve on the materials and training as we go along. We are currently in the process of adapting Breakthrough to Literacy to meet the changed priorities of the Botswana and South Africa curricula and the methodology has recently been adapted to meet the requirements.