Hopeview Resource Centre triggering reading skills in early primary school learners

Newly established Hopeview Resource Centre (HRC) is doing all it can to help learners in public schools acquire necessary reading skills as early as possible from Standard 1up to Standard 4.

A study did show that a good number of learners from low-income families could not read after finishing Standard 4. Such learners had no extra exciting and motivating reading resources at home besides teachers’ attempts at school to help them acquire reading skills. This is because their guardians could not afford to buy a newspaper let alone children’s books for extra reading. And because of limited resources in public schools, such children are not allowed to take books to their homes and therefore they literally have no single book to read at home.

Children exposed to reading materials by Hopeview

On the other hand, children from financially stable families could be enrolled in private primary schools with enough reading resources. At home, there are children’s magazines and books that also attract their curiosity to enhance their reading skills. Such children do read and even write as they complete their Standard 4.

Managing Director for Hopeview Resource Centre, Desmond Kaunda, clearly saw that gap and came up with an idea to establish the centre in 2019 in the city of Mzuzu.

Nyasa Times found out that personally, Kaunda has a daughter who had learning difficulties at a tender age. Kaunda noted and accepted the challenge immediately. He then started seeking intervention and as secondary school teacher that time, worked hard to get more information on inclusive education. The daughter is now able to read, write and interpret pictures after four years of early basic education.

“From that experience with our own daughter, we got inspired to reach out to other children to help them acquire reading skills in the early years of their primary education,” explained Kaunda.

The centre therefore identified Masasa Primary School in Mzuzu as a starting point where a mobile library is in use under Hopeview books on wheels programme.

Desmond Kaunda

Every Wednesday, exciting children’s books are taken to Masasa Primary School for learners in Standards 1 to 5 to read. Children in the afternoon shift do have a chance to read the books with expert guidance from 11 o’clock to 12 o’clock before they start their normal classes while those in the morning shift, come back to school in the afternoon to have their turn in acquiring the reading skills.

“This programme centres on promoting inclusive literacy at early levels of Standard 1 to 5. We recognise that our education system has inequalities which negatively affect learners from poor backgrounds and so our aim is to reach out to those learners especially in Masasa at the moment with reading resources and expert guidance in inclusive literacy strategies,” Kaunda told Nyasa Times.

When Nyasa Times visited Masasa Primary School on Wednesday, it was observed that children in the programme always eagerly wait for a Wednesday to be exposed to reading activities and exercises.

“A good number of Standard 1 learners have improved already in letter identification. In the course of running this programme, our special educational needs experts will also be identifying those learners with learning difficulties and then we will come up timely interventions on the same,” added Kaunda.

Headteacher for Masasa Primary School, Anna Phiri, hailed the initiative by Hopeview Resource Centre.

“As a school, we welcomed the initiative. We saw it as an extra gear in inculcating reading skills in our learners. The learners are so curious. They will always ask me if staff from Hopeview is coming every Wednesday.

“It is very important for a child to be able to read by the time they are leaving Standard 4. It is usually a good foundation for the rest of the levels until they write their Primary School Leaving Certificate Examinations,” explained Phiri.

Hopeview Resource Centre’s mission is nurturing inclusive literacy development of every child at early grade level.

“…Hopeview Resource Centre seeks the excellency in all of us, with passion and compassion. We are a centre shaped with the belief that every child matters and that no child should be left behind. This is our guiding compass in providing outstanding inclusive education in regular settings for every child,” reads the centre’s mission statement in part.

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