Enquiry into attribution of phonetic skills as an enabler of initial written and oral communication proficiency among grade 1 and 2 learners: The case of selected Schools in Lusaka and Chinsali Districts
Chilufya, Mumbi Felix
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This is a report of a study enquiring into the attribution of phonetic skills as an enabler of initial written and oral communication proficiency among grade 1 and 2 learners in selected schools of Lusaka and Chinsali districts. Observing the low reading levels among pupils and school leavers, the study aimed at affirming the key elementary skills required to enable learners acquire effective reading and writing skills i.e. communication proficiency. To achieve this, the study made a progressive enquiry from the frequency and magnitude of problematic reading, the awareness levels among educators and learners of skills imperative to effective communication, phonetic skills as imperative to reading and writing, and the design of the phonetic messages with specified channels and duration used for their transmission to the learner audience. The study was conducted in selected 15 primary and 4 secondary schools of Lusaka and Chinsali districts through methods of in-depth interviews with 33 educators, class observation of 30 classes and written and oral assessments of a total of 1,934 selected learners. Analysis of the collected data was done by tabulation of results in Microsoft Excel programme and then computation of these tabulations usingSoftware Package for Social Sciences(SPSS) to obtain percentages, ranges, tables and graphs indicating the correlation of the tabulated results. From this analysis, the study results indicate progressive low reading levels among learners from grade 1 to 12. The causal factors include a correlation of progressive low awareness levels of the imperativeness of phonetic skills in reading and writing among learners, a lack of systematic phonetic message design and transmission among educators and inadequate duration of phonetic skills communication to the learners. The implication of these factors is seen in the inadequate acquisition of phonetic skills which result in problematic reading and writing i.e. communication lapse. The study thus indicate that even with current efforts by educators to improve the literacy levels in schools, there still exists an alarming level of problematic reading and writing (communication) which is caused by an inadequate acquisition of phonetic skills by the learners. It is therefore imperative that the entire elementary literacy programme at grade 1 and 2 levels should heavily be tilted towards the acquisition of phonetic skills to enable the learners acquire communication proficiency in later schooling and tertiary education.