77 Teachers Trained in Literacy Training Project

GABORONE – Following the public-private partnership launched between the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD), Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL) Trust and Stepping Stones International, the recently held Literacy Training project has been hailed a success. The project, which launched in August 2024, sought to improve English literacy rates in schools across Botswana.

A total of 77 teachers were trained as part of the project, held over the course of two months. The first nine-day “Breakthrough Literacy” training included 36 teachers, reception through standard 3, while 41 standard 4 through 7 teachers attended the second eight-day session. The project comes on the back of a total of 8 schools adopted by BIHL through the BIHL Trust and the Adopt-A-School initiative championed by the MoESD. The project works to empower and equip local teachers with the skills and resources to foster greater English literacy levels amongst young students. Schools to benefit from the programme include: Chakaloba (Topisi), Mafetsakgang (Bobonong), Seinane (Kweneng), Bana ba Metsi (Shakawe), Kuke (Gantsi) and Mmathabakwe (Mopipi).

According to Stepping Stones International, educators extended their knowledge of the following concepts: fluency, scaffolding instruction, text difficulty, text structure and genre characteristics, oral language development, building/activating background knowledge, intentional lesson planning, comprehension strategies and increasing complexity of comprehension queries. In addition, motivation, vocabulary instruction in isolation and within context, automaticity, English syllable structure, and effective instructional techniques for introducing and practicing phonics and spelling concepts were also covered.

Said BIHL Trust Administrator, Tebogo Keepetsoe, “We continue to pledge our unwavering support for platforms that empower young Batswana with access to knowledge and the power to use that knowledge to contribute to our society. The Literacy Training project has seen the completion of its pilot phase and we are tremendously pleased with the outcome to date. What we eagerly anticipate monitoring now is the sustainable positive impact on literacy rates, something that will be closely monitored in time. The schools will be supported further through on going observation visits, feedback and coaching to the teachers to ensure the interventions and curriculum are implemented with fidelity.”

Said Megan Petersen, Intervention Specialist, University of Utah Reading Clinic and who formed part of the training panel, “Educators stepped out of their comfort zones as they collaborated with teachers from various schools to plan lessons and practice both text and word study routines. During clinical application of the acquired skills, teachers received direct, specific, and immediate feedback from the trainers, as well as, 2 colleagues.”

Practical implementation by Stepping Stones International has shown a demonstrable improvement in academic performance following the implementation of key literacy interventions, Early Steps SM and Next Steps SM in partnership with the University of Utah Reading Clinic. Past interventions have seen youth advance a full standard reading level in just over four months. During the sessions, trainers extensively and repeatedly modelled explicit teaching practices, management tools, and organizational skills that could be emulated within the classroom setting.

“One of the key learnings from the pilot effort was the need for more. More time, more effort, more dedication to such a cause. We look forward to seeing how we can continue to support and grow this platform, one we believe to be paramount to the overarching effort to support youth education and empowerment,” concluded Keepetsoe.