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All Children Reading event in Malawi commemorates FHI 360 expert

August 18, 2014

Karen Wiener, PhD, teacher, researcher, and FHI 360 literacy expert who inspired and supported students and educators in Malawi, was remembered for her groundbreaking reading work in a special ceremony. The event that was dedicated to her memory, and to the continuation of the life-changing work she began, took place at the Namilango School in Blantyre Urban district, Malawi, on July 24, 2014. More than 300 students, parents, community members, teachers, primary education advisors, ministry officials and development professionals gathered for the occasion.

Karen was the creator of Timawerenga! (We Can Read!), sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Timawerenga! responded to the critical need for sufficient quantities of low-cost, appropriate and effective mother-tongue reading materials for students in grades 1 and 2.

After Karen’s untimely death in 2012, FHI 360 joined with the Wiener family and their friends to create The Karen Wiener Memorial Fund. At the July 24 event, grants from the fund were presented to the four Timawerenga! schools that demonstrated the greatest participation and use of the Timawerenga! methodology in the classroom. Each winning school represented one of the project’s four implementing districts: Namilango School in Blantyre Urban, Mjinge School Community of Mzimba South, Mchokola School Community of Mangochi and Chimbiya School Community of Chikwawa.

Karen’s work received international recognition with the All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development award from USAID, which recognizes innovative interventions that promote literacy. Karen is also remembered for her contributions to research. A graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Karen’s dissertation examined many facets of literacy instruction in Malawi and received high praise for modeling how education researchers can use their craft to give teachers a voice in shaping education policy.