Timawerenga! We Can Read! responds to the critical need for sufficient quantities of low-cost, appropriate and effective mother-tongue reading materials for primary school students in grades 1 and 2. FHI 360 and its partner, the University of Malawi Center for Educational Research and Training (CERT), are developing and testing decodable stories in three language groups for use at home and in the classroom to assess their impact on early-grade reading scores. Decodables are 5–7 sentence stories in which the vocabulary is controlled to build on the readers’ existing reading skills. Good decodable stories encourage young children to learn to read and to read independently.
Blending a community-based approach with materials development and a low-tech strategy to hand-copy short decodable stories, Timawerenga! provides an easy, low-cost solution to getting appropriate reading materials into the hands of teachers and students. The project targets 80 schools and three language groups (Chichewa, Chitumbuka and Chiyao) in Malawi.
The project is one of the winning innovations in the All Children Reading Grand Challenge competition sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Australian Agency for International Development and World Vision.