EDC has been awarded a $30 million contract by the U.S. Agency for International Development to direct a broad education reform effort in Mali, reaching 80 percent of primary schools and over 1.5 million children over the next five years.
Armed conflict in Somalia has forced people to flee their homes and has sent many into makeshift housing and camps. Using shortwave radio to reach these people, EDC produces and broadcasts instructional segments on basic reading, math, and life skills such as health and conflict prevention.
From a very early age, children learn about language by listening to adults, and seeing and hearing them read books and newspapers. These first experiences with literacy help prepare youngsters to become readers. But how can parents who themselves have low-literacy skills support their children’s early reading efforts?
U.S. First Lady Laura Bush, accompanying President George W. Bush on a visit to Africa this week, took time out to visit Ghana’s Mallam DA Primary School in Accra, where she helped open a library and “reading hut,” set up and equipped by EDC’s Education Quality for All (EQUALL) project. Mrs. Bush, along with Ghana First Lady Theresa Kufour, visited and read with children in a classroom at the school.
This project is developing two products for the National Institute for Literacy. The products will be used by schools and other organizations and groups to engage parents with low literacy skills in supporting their children’s (kindergarten through third grade) literacy development through fun, at-home activities. The products include a facilitators manual and parent activity guide. EDC project stasff are working with national literacy experts on the development of the products.
As the Latino population in the United States grows, so does a large achievement gap. An EDC-designed professional development program is helping preschools offer an enriched program that is interactive and culturally and linguistically responsive.
Across Madagascar, primary
school classrooms once dominated by teacher talk are now buzzing with
the sounds of children learning in groups, singing songs, asking questions, and sharing answers.
children once learned mathematics through recitation and rote
memorization, they now sit together and count with twigs or bottle
caps. French and literacy lessons are transformed as well, with
children building vocabulary skills by reciting poems and creating
their own sentences to share with classmates.
The last time Inez had a head cold, she reached for three different remedies—a nasal decongestant, something for her sore throat, and a syrup for her cough. In her quest for relief, she failed to notice that all three contained acetaminophen, and each featured a warning about the dangers of multiple doses of the drug.
Over the past 25 years, the number of school-age children in the U.S. who speak a language other than English at home has increased from 3.8 to 9.9 million. These students often lag behind their peers academically and schools are struggling to find ways to increase their level of achievement. The challenges in mathematics class are especially difficult.
Even when students can read, do they always understand? That is the concern of EDC’s literacy experts, who are exploring the use of technology in boosting three key aspects of reading comprehension: identifying themes, sorting information, and connecting ideas.
EDC’s Adult Literacy Media Alliance (ALMA) has developed “Health Smarts While You Wait,” a volunteer-based health literacy program implemented in clinic and hospital waiting rooms to help patients improve their health literacy and manage their healthcare more effectively.
The votes are in, and Jane Addams, the social reformer and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, has been selected as the “American History Idol.” Inspired by the hit TV show American Idol, EDC created a curriculum unit where students write persuasive essays on key historical figures, and the class then votes on who had the greatest impact. To gather, organize, and present information for their essays, students use the software program Draft: Builder, originally developed at EDC and now published by Don Johnston, Inc.
Alex Quinn, a project director at the Massachusetts-based Education Development Center (EDC), has been elected to serve on the board of the National Coalition for Literacy. Quinn was elected to a three-year term during the coalition’s membership meeting held on September 7, 2006.
Concerned about dating abuse among American teenagers, U.S. Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) held a Washington press conference this spring to announce national distribution of Love Is Not Abuse, a curriculum developed by EDC for Liz Claiborne, Inc. Created by EDC’s Christine Blaber, with input from educators and a national advisory board, the program helps ninth graders recognize, respond to, and seek help for their friends and peers who may be victims of abuse.
On the third floor of Larsen Hall at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, thousands of video and audiocassettes line the walls of a room not much bigger than a closet. The cassettes contain data of an unusual sort—voices of children in ordinary conversation with each other and with adults at school, at play, and at home.
The most famous example of the linguistic theory known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is the multiple words Eskimos have for snow. Similarly, Micael Olsson uses the theory to provide insight into his research and collaborations with the Barai people of Papua New Guinea. The Barai have 30 different words for “yam”—one of their staple crops—but only one word for any piece of furniture with a flat surface (i.e., bed, chair, table, bench, desk, counter, and cupboard).
“History is changing,” write Cornelia Brunner and Bill Tally in their new book, The New Media Literacy Handbook: An Educator’s Guide to Bringing New Media Into the Classroom. “Broadly stated, the change can be described as a shift from neat history to messy history. Neat history is characterized by a coherent, agreed-upon, linear narrative, and by delivery systems such as textbooks and lecture-and-slide presentations.
“People in Afghanistan are really hungry for learning and development,” says Cornelia Janke, a project director for the $10.6 million Literacy and Community Empowerment Program, managed by EDC in partnership with UN-Habitat. As the people of Afghanistan seek to recover from decades of civil war and repressive rule, EDC is reaching thousands of Afghans in their villages in a project to improve literacy, income generation, and local governance. The project, funded by USAID, works with locally elected councils, and employs hundreds of local Afghans.
Teachers know that the Internet is full of useful and creative
materials to improve reading, but often they are too busy
to find the best ones. To make these Web resources more
readily available, Judith Zorfass and her staff at EDC’s Center
for Family, School, and Community have developed the
Literacy Matters Web site. The site aims to improve the
literacy development of middle and high school students,
especially those who may be struggling.
Many Afghans who grew up during decades
of war and repressive rule are now in their
twenties, struggling to find their footing in a
dramatically altered and rapidly changing country.
Deprived of the opportunity for schooling in their
early years, many are unable to read; some can’t even
recognize letters of the alphabet. In rural areas, about
70 percent of heads of households cannot read or write.
EQUIP3/Haitian Out-of-School Youth Livelihood Initiative, or IDEJEN as the project is known locally, operates twelve youth centers. Each center provides 50 students between the ages of 15-20 with an education in basic reading, writing, and mathematics. Students also receive lessons in health, nutrition, conflict-resolution, and other life-skills. In addition, they learn a marketable trade such as sewing, woodworking, auto mechanics, handcrafts, hotel services, or agricultural businesses.
EDC’s Adult Literacy Media Alliance (ALMA) has been awarded a grant of $210,000 from the NASD Investor Education Foundation to produce investor education video programming that teaches key math concepts and makes investment language more meaningful to public television viewers, particularly women with low literacy skills.
This op-ed, written by EDC’s Cornelia Janke, outlines positive changes taking place in education and community development. Janke directs EDC’s Literacy and Community Empowerment Program in Afghanistan.