Not long ago in September, the Malawian graduate students joined an online workshop sponsored by USAID. The title of the webinar was “Incentives and Accountability in Education.” Participants were able to connect via the Internet from across the globe and listen to presentations taking place in Washington D.C.
The presenters shared information on using incentives to improve both student and teacher performance with early grade reading. One exercise during the workshop dealt with a hypothetical situation in Malawi, and the students found this to be a very useful learning activity. In fact, the exercise may be expanded as part of a visit to campus by an early grade reading consultant in spring 2015.
In the coming months, the Malawians hope to learn more about technology and the possibilities it affords as far as creating inter-connectivity with knowledgeable experts in early grade reading around the world.
Meanwhile, the students continue to work with Tim Hurson’s book Think Better in Professor Elder’s class, “Means for Mastery of Reading Pedagogy.” I sat in on a recent discussion in which Elder asked the students to list what this text can help them accomplish in addressing literacy issues once they return to Malawi. Their lists boiled down to three main goals, stated in various ways:
- To have a stronger and clearer voice in the planning of new curricula;
- To develop innovative strategies for helping young students learn to read; and
- To introduce problem-solving skills that will help colleagues think better and work better
This week, on October 9 and 10, the college will host a visiting consultant from RTI International in Washington DC. Karon Harden brings considerable experience working with early grade reading initiatives in Africa. I know the graduate students are looking forward to her visit as they continue to seek solutions to the challenges of teaching reading to young learners in Malawi.