Here’s how Phonics Training is Transforming Tanzanian Primary Schools

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Standard II Teacher Elda Kisava engages the entire classroom of students as they learn letters as sounds [one skill of phonics].
USAID/Tanzania, Rachel Chilton

Morogoro, Tanzania -- Elda Kisava has always been passionate about teaching. She feels it is a natural fit for her. Unfortunately, in Tanzania many teachers are tasked with teaching a very large number of students at one time which can create a challenging learning environment.

While access to and gender parity in education in Tanzania has improved, quality has not kept pace, especially in primary schools. As a result, student performance continues to suffer across all 26 regions of Tanzania, including Morogoro.

The USAID Tusome Pamoja (Let Us Read Together) activity is working with Tanzanians and other development partners to change this. Along with providing reading materials for new students, the activity trains teachers on innovative ways to make reading easier and more engaging for students. Elda believes her students' strengths include an eagerness to learn. By making new reading books accessible to each child, classroom training has been enriched and children can now study at home.

Elda had the opportunity to attend several Tusome Pamoja phonics training sessions. "I now have a new skill set for teaching letters as sounds [one skill of phonics]," said Elda. The use of phonics helps her engage the large number of students in her classroom. Every student has the chance to sound out letters and words for the entire group. Learning becomes less challenging and more fun.

As a teacher designated to provide phonics training to other teachers, Elda is responsible for educating her colleagues. The teachers at Mikumi Primary School meet once a week to discuss best practices for helping students improve their reading skills.

Tusome Pamoja works in five target regions in Tanzania: Iringa, Morogoro, Mtwara, Ruvuma, and Zanzibar. Since the project began in January of 2016, all Standard I and II students have received new learning materials, including nearly one million reading books. Additionally, all Standard I and II teachers across the five regions, over 12,000 in total, have received training on early grade reading instruction, improving their knowledge and skills as educators.

Tusome Pamoja will continue to identify and build on existing initiatives and plans to reach over 879,000 Standard I to Standard IV students and 26,000 teachers by January 2021.

Elda is thrilled to see improvements in her students' reading skills. "They are very eager to learn. They come to class every day ready to learn something new. I am happy I can help."


Story by Rachel Chilton