New course assisting teachers with the challenges of early reading in Africa

Joint initiative to develop a wonderful open online course for active teaching approaches to teach early reading

Tessa Welch

The Open University UK and Saide’s African Storybook, have jointly developed a wonderful open online course to introduce teachers or ECD educators to active teaching approaches that can be used to teach early reading. 

The teaching of early reading is a fundamental problem that constrains learner progress in Africa. Unless children are taught to read at an early age, they may never master appropriate skills to be able to read for understanding. If children can read fluently and make meaning from what they are reading, by the time they encounter the wider curriculum hey will have the best possible chance of achieving success at school.This success will open a range of options as they move into the adult world. But learning to read requires children to have resources in their familiar language.

This Badged Online Course (BOC) makes use of storybooks that are in languages African children are familiar with – through the African Storybook website. The course provides ideas and tools that enable participants to gain expertise in the field of early reading. You can study on your own at your own pace or you can study collaboratively with a colleague – preferably both!  Although you can submit assessments that will entitle you to a digital badge, the quizzes on this course can be used formatively as well as promote discussion between you and your colleagues. Also, although the BOC is an online course, you can download the resources onto your laptop, tablet or smartphone and read them offline.

In early August, 13 participants from Ntataise, a South African Early Childhood Development organisation, had the privilege of participating in the first dissemination workshop for this online course. This day-long workshop took place at Saide offices in Johannesburg. Participants found the workshop fascinating and most revealing in terms of approaches to teaching early reading. Some of the comments they gave at the end of the workshop were:

  • The course was an eye opener as it enabled me to understand approaches to teaching early reading.
  • I now understand some of the challenges children face in reading, and strategies that can be used to address those challenges.
  • I understood the role of stories in teaching early reading.

Here is an opportunity for you to gain expertise in teaching and researching early reading: Login and go through this free course.

Group work during the BOC dissemination workshop for Ntataise.