Literacy Boost works within communities to strengthen children's reading skills. The program functions alongside the national curriculum and local languages to improve learning outcomes for primary-aged children in and out of school. Literacy Boost focuses on developing 5 core reading skills: letter knowledge, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, reading fluency, and comprehension. The program's three-pronged approach involves:
- Reading assessments - Literacy Boost tests children's basic reading skills and conducts school surveys to understand the needs of the population, track students' progress, and measure the impact of the program in comparison to non-participants. Literacy Boost also calculates a home literacy environment (HLE) index based on availability of reading materials and family literacy habits to determine the level of support and encouragement available to children at home.
- Teacher training - The program helps teachers more effectively implement the national curriculum and teach children to read through in-service training opportunities. Monthly workshops promote a peer-support model where teachers share best practices and learn to use classroom materials. The program also conducts classroom visits and provides one-on-one support for teachers.
- Community action - Literacy Boost actively promotes reading at the local and national levels. Within communities, weekly reading camps serve as extracurricular activities for students or out-of-school children to practice reading and allow those without access to a reading adult or older sibling at home a place to be read to and read with others. Book banks, or mini-libraries, contain more than 200 engaging books in the local language (either purchased or created by Save the Children) for children to borrow and continue reading at home. Literacy Boost also organizes specific activities and workshops for parents to teach them how to support their children, whether or not they can read. An online toolkit provides a simple guide for how both literate and illiterate parents can encourage reading on a daily basis. Save the Children additionally works to generate a national dialogue around the culture of reading and foster scale-up of similar programs through government cooperation.
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CEI approaches in action
Save the Children initially established Literacy Boost in countries and communities with existing programmatic relationships. Now, Save the Children works with governments and ministries of education to determine what communities are most in need of the program's services.
Since the program began its pilot in Malawi in 2009, Literacy Boost has expanded to reach 24 different countries, including: Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru, Haiti, Mali, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Yemen, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka.
Literacy Boost is looking to expand its teacher training component to include pre-service as well as in-service opportunities. Additionally, Save the Children aims to play a bigger role in influencing national dialogues about reading and scale-up of similar programs, but does not intend to implement Literacy Boost at a national scale in any country.
Monitoring & Evaluation
Literacy Boost conducts a baseline evaluation at the beginning of intervention in each country, has teachers conduct regular assessments during the year, and administers endline evaluations at the end of every school year to track students' progress and provide important data for schools and ministries of education. In addition to reading scores, assessments gather data on socioeconomic status, sex, age, and home literacy environments (HLE). Assessments are a frequent and well-integrated component of the program and their results lead to constant tweaking and changes in the program.
Internal Assessment Performance - Literacy | The following was published in a mid-2013 cross-country study that compared results from the program's first year in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nepal, Pakistan, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. Results generally demonstrated significant improvement among reading scores for students in schools participating in Literacy Boost in comparison to other students with similar characteristics and equivalent baseline reading scores. The following specific skills were measured and found to have substantial effect sizes for Literacy Boost programs in the countries listed:
- Concepts about print: Ethiopia, Nepal, Pakistan
- Letter identification: Ethiopia, Nepal, Pakistan
- Most-used word reading: Ethiopia, Malawi, Zimbabwe
- Fluency (words per minute read correctly): Ethiopia, Malawi, Nepal, Pakistan, Zimbabwe
- Accuracy (proportion of words read correctly): Ethiopia, Malawi, Pakistan
- Reading comprehension: Malawi, Pakistan
- Writing: Malawi
In addition, impoverished girls participating in Literacy Boost learned 2.5 times more letters in Pakistan and 4.5 times more letters in Nepal than impoverished girls in comparison schools. Children living in poverty in Pakistan that participated in Literacy Boost improved their reading comprehension scores by more than 4 times that of comparable students.
Country-specific results can be requested from the program.
Girls in Literacy Boost's program were more likely to stay in school in Zimbabwe (33%) and Ethiopia (43%) than girls not in the program.
Literacy Boost students living in extreme poverty were more likely to stay in school in Bangladesh (30%), Zimbabwe (73.5%), and Pakistan (91.6%) than their impoverished peers.