Final phase pilot reading education in Zambia for deaf and hard-of-hearing learners

Classroom children reading Zambia

The USAID Let’s Read project aims to improve reading outcomes for children in Zambia’s government and community schools. Kentalis International Foundation developed a pilot within the project to support literacy education for deaf and hard-of-hearing learners.

About USAID Let’s Read

The USAID Let’s Read project is a 5-year education project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The program assists the Ministry of Education (MoE) in Zambia to improve the reading outcomes for approximately 1.4 million children from kindergarten up to grade three in five target provinces. The project is implemented by the Education Development Center (EDC) with subcontractors Kentalis International Foundation, VVOB, and Resonance

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Early identification and intervention

The challenge for Kentalis International Foundation was to strengthen the literacy education for deaf and hard-of-hearing learners throughout Zambia, as well as address the language delay with which most deaf and hard-of-hearing children enter schools. Therefore, a portion of the pilot was focused on addressing early identification and early intervention by parents and the local community. Community health workers completed a basic online course on audiology and the Zambian National Association of the Deaf received a refresher course on how to provide Parents Awareness Workshops to support parents in the interaction with their deaf children. 

Mother and boy reading Zambia

Deaf-specific reading package

Another section of the pilot focused on school teachers and resulted in a training package for early literacy development. Over the years, Kentalis has developed a reading method for deaf and hard-of-hearing learners based on research and practice in Dutch and East African schools. For this pilot, the method was adapted to the Zambian curriculum and context. This resulted in a three-part resource book that can be used by teachers in Zambia as a practical toolkit. Additionally, eight lecturers of teacher training institutions and the University of Zambia were trained in the basic understanding of reading for young deaf learners and the required teaching skills so that they can continue supporting current and future teachers in Zambia. 

Disclaimer: this project is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of Kentalis International Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States government.

Photo credits: image 1 by Chando Mapoma, USAID/Zambia, image 2 by Denise Clarke, USAID Let’s Read Project, Zambia.