An Edtech Initiative in Sierra Leone Schools to Improve English Reading and Comprehension.
RightToRead, an edtech initiative, was initially implemented in Akhom School,Koidu, in academic year 2015-16.The initial pilot had 100 students from Junior Secondary School (JSS)1-3. This early effort was in partnership with LoveSierraLeone organization (LSL). Later in 2018, with support from The Casey Trust, the RightToRead program expanded to UMC Girls School (United Methodist Church) for JSS 1-3.
RightToRead is powered by a multi-sensory reading and comprehension AI software – ReadToMe®. The software is trained to read local school text books, uses a voice that is locally preferred and offers translation of English words in various vernaculars. These attributes of the program make it globally transportable.
How is this Edtech Initiative Aiding Students to Improve Their Reading and Comprehension Skills?
Research indicates that language is best learned through multi-sensory exposure in the learner’s usual environment. Contextual learning enhances cognitive recognition of words, phrases and sentences. Repeated and frequent multi-sensory exposure to words enables word recognition and development of pronunciation, reading and comprehension skills.Teachers also observe high level of student engagement when using multi-sensory software for English reading and comprehension.
RightToRead – A Global Initiative Taking Technology Enabled Reading to Millions!
RightToRead was launched in 2013 in 100 schools across 6 states in India. In 2015, the program expanded to 5000 schools reaching one million students in 8 states. Currently, RightToRead is also implemented in schools in Africa (Sierra Leone & Nigeria), Asia (Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka), and Central America (Guatemala, Nicaragua & Honduras). RightToRead is estimated to achieve a footprint of 100,000 schools reaching nearly 20 million students by early 2020
RightToRead- Impact in Sierra Leone Schools
Schools in Sierra Leone often have up-to 60 students per class, with no teaching aids apart from a blackboard. Most of the students do not receive literacy or education support at home.Their academic or learning goals have to be achieved in school. Sometimes students are unable to attend school since they have to work to earn money for their families.
The schools undertaking ReadToMe® classes conducted assessments to assess the impact of program. Teachers from Akhom School observed ReadToMe® classes have helped students improve their English reading and comprehension skills. Average marks improved substantially ranging from nearly 30% to beyond 70% over the period 2015 to 2018.
Norm Robins, Founder of LSL, observed that students from JSS 1-3 learned correct pronunciation of words, improved their reading and comprehension, vocabulary with ReadToMe® software tools. The students enjoy English reading and comprehension lessons with this unique combination of technology and education.
Students’ and Teachers’ Speak About RightToRead
The children too love RightToRead, as noted by the Head of Ahkom School.
Yei Elizabeth Ellie, a student from Koidu district, says “I like the RightToRead Program. It is different from other subject teachings, because of its real presentations. The ReadToMe® software helps me a lot to improve my English reading and comprehension ability.”
JSS 1-3 teachers – Mr. Sahr Henry and Mr. Kpaka from Akhom School say “We have noticed a trend for pupils to speak more often in English with their friends; this has resulted in an on-going improvement in their English pronunciation. JSS-3 is particularly happy with their classes as the interactive nature of the ReadToMe® software makes the topics more interesting. The software has been credited by the children for improvement in their pronunciation. The RightToRead program has reduced students’ fear of speaking in public.”
Norm Robins from LSL shares, “Two young girls newly promoted from Junior Secondary 3 to Senior Secondary 1 spent a good deal of their morning break, last week, in the punishment corner for skiving class in a determined bid to attend the JSS 3 ReadToMe® class. Talk about the dangers of nostalgia! We need to find ways to give these children more opportunities to learn.”
To know more about ReadToMe® classes in Sierra Leone please click https://lovesierraleone.org/right-to-read/
To know about ReadToMe® pronunciation tool please click https://youtu.be/B4DbbZQ1LJI
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