The impact of the new Primary Reading programme on the poor readers

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Kalindi, Sylvia Chanda
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The main objective for carrying out this study was to find out if the poor readers were benefiting from the 'new child centred' approach to learning to read under the Primary Reading Programme. The specific objectives were to find out if the poor readers had acquired the initial literacy skills and how well they were developing literacy skills in English; teachers were oriented towards helping poor readers acquire literacy skills; classrooms had adequate reading material to support reading development as well as to whether the poor readers utilised the reading material. In this study, 'poor reader' referred to a pupil who had not made satisfactory progress in reading given instruction in the traditional general education classroom. A sample size of 60 pupils (31 males and 29 females) from six selected basic schools in Kasama and Mpika districts were used in this study namely; Chifwani, Mubanga Chipoya, Kasenda, Chibansa, Njanji and Kabale respectively. The measures of reading included single word reading and reading comprehension tasks both in Icibemba and English. An additional measure of phoneme awareness was done. In addition to this a brief interview to ascertain reading behaviour was conducted with pupils individually. To obtain information from the teachers interviews were used. Frequencies, percentages and t-test were used to analyse the quantitative data obtained. Responses from interviews were coded and grouped to establish the emerging themes in the study. The study found that the poor readers had not acquired adequate initial literacy skills to enable them read words, the teachers were not oriented towards helping poor readers in their classes, but the classrooms had enough reading material though the poor readers could not adequately utilise the reading material due to their inability to read. The study recommended the following to the Ministry of Education in order to realise the goal that every pupil succeeds in learning to read and write clearly, correctly and confidently in a Zambian language and in English: Adequate training of teachers: The Ministry of Education should ensure that New Breakthrough to Literacy teachers are provided with long training up to university level in order to acquaint them with skills on how to teach slow learners such as poor readers. This will also help teachers to acquire diagnostic skills necessary in assessment as well as useful guidelines on the prevention and correction of the difficulties they experience when teaching slow learners. Early childhood education should be introduced as soon as possible in all schools countrywide in order to help provide a good basis for the children to acquire reading skills in grade one and enjoy the benefits of accelerated learning thereafter.The large class sizes should be reduced. This could be done through building more classrooms so that the present classes could be split in two thereby allowing for increased learning time for each class.Train and employ teacher aides for grades one to three. This will relieve the class teacher of some class management responsibilities and allow him/her to concentrate more on meeting the different needs of the pupils.Class teachers should be availed teaching material that enables them to teach poor readers in the classroom.
Readers , Readers (Primary) , Reading -- Ability testing , Poor