At the end of 2013, 90% of our 48 Year 2 pupils successfully completed the literacy program at Shine Zambia Reading Academy. This is by far the largest number of graduates we have produced in one year from Shine, with all 43 of them completing our literacy program in 2 or 3 years. In addition to teaching children how to read and write, the program includes Maths, English language, Science, Social Development Studies and Chinyanja (a Zambian language) from Grade 1 up to Grade 4, so this really is a fantastic achievement! Our 2013 graduates are now aged between 10 and 15, and Shine has arranged places for them in a government school at Grade 5 or Grade 6.
To graduate from Shine Zambia Reading Academy, a pupil has to pass their end-of-year exams, the most important being the reading assessment. Our target was to have all of our graduates reading at a Grade 4 level. However, in December 70% of our pupils graduated with a reading level of Grade 6 or Grade 7, with only 3 of our graduates achieving a Grade 4 reading level!
It will always be a challenge to take vulnerable, illiterate children who are already 8-12 years old, and teach them to read, write and learn 5 main subjects from Grade 1 – Grade 4 in just two years. However, our pupils and teachers have shown that it is possible to shine, even when you live in poverty.