WALTHAM, MA | July 7, 2014
An EDC initiative to improve literacy and learning in Zambia was the focus of a recent visit by Dr. Jill Biden, wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, and Rajiv Shah, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The program, known as Time to Learn, is USAID/Zambia’s flagship program for improving education in community schools.
During her visit to the Shalom Community School in Lusaka, Biden spoke about the United States’ programs and priorities in education and health, with an emphasis on girls’ education.
“What all of you are doing—putting your education first—is so important,” said Biden in addressing the students. “By focusing on your studies, you are creating a lifetime of opportunities for you and your families,” Biden said.
Following the formal program, Biden and Shah visited students in grades 1 and 2 and posed with students who had been awarded scholarships through the program. Both officials expressed interest in EDC’s innovative use of technology to improve teaching and assess early literacy.”
“Our visitors were very interested in our use of tablets and literacy games,” said EDC’s Patrick Fayaud. “They were pleased to hear that the lessons and games were designed to reinforce and consolidate literacy skills and were tailored to the Zambian curriculum and literacy schedule.”
The Time to Learn project works with the Ministry of Education and others in the education sector to enhance learning opportunities and increase school effectiveness. It provides materials, helps school management committees mobilize parents around education (particularly reading), offers professional development to teachers, and provides scholarships to orphans and vulnerable children. The project operates in the Lusaka, Central, Copperbelt, Eastern, Muchinga, and Southern provinces.
Community schools are a primary focus of the Time to Learn project because their quality of education is often poor and student reading performance is low. Yet these schools are vital to Zambia’s education system because the number of government schools is inadequate to serve the population. More than 20 percent of students in basic education attend community schools, which are owned and managed by the communities. These schools enroll the most economically disadvantaged children, those who struggle with both psychosocial and academic issues.
“Our challenges are many,” says Fayaud. “We work with the most deprived schools, but the Ministry of Education has made both improvement of reading performance and enhancement of community schools two of their priorities, and they have integrated Time to Learn into their plans and activities.”
To enable more children to finish grade 12, the project aims to provide 48,000 scholarships by 2015.
Funded by USAID and directed by EDC, Time to Learn works with the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education. EDC partners with the Forum for African Women Educationalists in Zambia and the Campaign for Female Education to bring the program to local schools.
EDC designs, implements, and evaluates programs to improve education, health, and economic opportunity worldwide. EDC manages 250 projects in 30 countries. Visit www.edc.org.