The Literacy for Life Program
The Literacy for Life Program is an early childhood development initiative focused on children and youth ages 1 – 15. This program’s main objective is to create a safe learning space for children and youth in the communities we serve to raise the level of literacy and contribute to better learning outcomes.
The Literacy for Life program adopts an ecosystem approach to program design and development to ensure that the most vulnerable children and families have increased access to quality early childhood development services and education.
Why do we do this?
Early Child Development is critical in the wellbeing of a child as there is a positive link between early childhood learning and future holistic development. From 2007 when the ECD policy in the education sector was launched in Uganda followed by advocacy across the country, the proportion of children attending preschool increased from 2% in 2006 to 3% in 2007.
Currently, the proportion of children in pre-school expressed as a percentage of the population aged three to five is 9% which translates into a gap of 91%. The existing gap is likely to persist if the government does not come up with affirmative action to avert the status quo.
The Literacy for Life Program is there contributing to reducing the 91% gap by offering free preschool sessions to kids that visit our centers in Mukono and Kitende. The idea is to help these children defeat any developmental challenges that would have come out of lack of access to early childhood development services. Kids in the program learn how to read, write and socialize.
The program follows the national teaching curriculum for Early Childhood Development Centers. This curriculum provides guidance on how to assess the child, record the progress, and report to those who need the progress reports on the child. This allows for regular monitoring of individual learners’ progress, diagnosis of learning difficulties and providing the necessary assistance.
The curriculum also provides information on the teaching and learning experiences that enhance the holistic development of a child. Emphasis is on learner-centredness and provides for increased learner-teacher contact time, different ability groups and use of familiar language for initial literacy.
On top of following this curriculum, the Literacy for Life Program has three Key Success Activities: The JoyLabs, Peer2Peer Exchange, and The Storytelling Studio.
L4L Key Success Activities
JoyLabs are popup literacy spaces in schools and communities where our literacy coordinators meet with children and offer reading and playing services. At the JoyLabs, children get an opportunity to read the books they like, pair and share what they have learned and present to the whole group, what they are going to do with all they have learned in the session. The purpose of this engagement is to ensure that children attain better reading skills, and confidence to read out loud and present to fellow children on what they have learned.
The Peer2Peer Exchange is a program of Youth Rising in partnership with Galaxy International School Uganda (GISU), Ray United FC and Skykids Uganda where children from Youth Rising get to meet and interact with fellow children. This is done through several activities planned through the year where children get the opportunity to spend quality time of play and learning from each other.
Why Peer Exchange?
There is nothing as powerful as children learning from each other. We, therefore, started this program to support children to have both local and international learning and knowledge that propels children towards acceptance and understanding of an array of different cultural and community perspectives.
We also highly believe that language acquisition is achieved through practical immersion, and awareness and adoption of alternative, multi-faceted approaches to learning. Through exchange activities, children learn a ton of analytical and problem-solving skills, and interest in global issues as well as a broader general knowledge.
Through our events with Galaxy International School Uganda and Ray United FC, children are becoming self-aware, leading to enhanced self-confidence and self-esteem. This is often the most noticeable change when children return from each activity.
Ray United FC has reported that among their exchange returned youth, they have seen maturity and social poise, fuelled by the necessity to confront challenges outside a familiar support network and comfort zone.
And there has been a tremendous sense of accomplishment upon completion of each activity among Galaxy International School Uganda students and this has encouraged students to develop independent opinions, make informed decisions and strive to attain fresh goals.
Finally, all our Peer2Peer Exchange Activities have led to the children integrating into another family as well as the development of life-long friendships, fostering an appreciation of home and family. We believe that these activities are building the next generation global citizens who will not be defined by borders but by human values of a connected world that serves and respects one another.
Current Peer2Peer Exchange Activities
Read A Book Share A Book
Read A Book Share A Book (RABSAB) is a joint partnership program between Youth Rising and Galaxy International School Uganda (GISU) where once every term, children from Youth Rising spend a full day at GISU learning, playing and sharing with fellow children at GISU. The program attending classes together, going to the gymnasium and playing together and of course participating in all sorts of other fun activities and sharing meals. The event is capped by a read a book share a book moment where children from GISU read with their friends at Youth Rising and give the book out at the end.
The donation of the book enhances reading within the Literacy for Life Program and it also increases children’s confidence and interest in reading. Youth Rising kids also give out gifts they have made in the children artspace classes to their buddies.
This activity is unique because it involves the youngest of them all working towards making the world a better place by engaging in community service. Service learning gives children an authentic educational experience while teaching empathy. Through service learning, students get a chance to contribute to their communities and discover whether they are 4, 7 or 15, they can make a difference.
Children grow emotionally, intellectually, and physically through both their relationships and through their community. For children, community involvement and engagement produce long-term benefits in their lives. It gives them a sense of belonging and is crucial to the building of their identity. The younger the child is when the discussion about giving begins, the more it becomes a matter of practice and habit that continues into adulthood.
This one-day event is also a partnership with GISU. Children at GISU visit Youth Rising for a day of activities that include learning from each other and community service.
Youth Rising and Galaxy International School believe in the importance of nurturing children holistically. We all want children to be grateful for what they have been given and have compassion for those who are in need. Teaching children, the spirit of giving, showing them the importance of thinking of others, and modeling kindness are all important ways to help children grow into productive and loving members of our world.
It is this like-mindedness that led us to strike a partnership to have kids at GISU participate in Kids2Community service learning activity with kids at Youth Rising Kitende.
The event hosts students from GISU between 4-8 years in Reception and Year 3 classes to engage in community service. The activity is a learning strategy that integrates instruction and reflection to enrich students’ learning experience, teach civic responsibility and strengthen our beloved community.
This activity connects kids from Galaxy International School to fellow kids who are not able to go to the same school they go to. This encourages them to reflect on their willingness to express compassion, care, and empathy.
Ray United FC Youth Vision Trip
The Ray United FC Youth Vision Trip is also a one-day exchange activity that involves youth from California, USA visiting Uganda with Ray United FC to spend a day with Youth Rising, learning about the culture, reading, sharing and just having fun. The day involves storytelling activities where all children interact with one another and ask questions about everything culture, music, dance, food, movies, school, etc.
At every visit, each group plans an activity that they would teach the other group and this is usually the most fun part. Kids have learned how to make chapati, matooke, pizza, sing national anthems, make friendship bracelets and practiced traditional dances.
Children’s Holiday Extravaganza
No one loves to celebrate the end of the school year like children. Every December, Youth Rising kids participate in the children’s holiday extravaganza, organized by Skykids Uganda. The children only event includes performances from top Ugandan artists, children fun activities like face painting and bouncing castles. Children also perform songs, participate in dance and drama competitions.
The Storytelling Studio
The Storytelling Studio combines the art of reading and writing to produce stories and illustrations that are digitally illustrated and published, to add on the bank of locally generated reading materials for kids, written and illustrated by Ugandan kids.
The creative artspace involves children participating in designing and creation of handmade items. The idea is to spark creativity through the arts. Some of the classes involve facilitators from Women Rising Groups who come and teach children artisanry skills. An extension of the art space programs is personal finance where children are taught saving skills, making of piggy banks, and having saving targets. In the near future, kids will also experience digital literacy classes as part of their artspace program.
The number of children participating in the program at Youth Rising Kitende
The number of children participating in the program at Youth Rising Mukono
The number of children engaged at this year’s Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) Day.
The number of monthly reading hours that children enjoy at Youth Rising.
“My name is Shadia and my mom started bringing me here at Youth Rising for the Literacy for Life Program since I was 2 years old. I love our teacher, Ms. Jackie because she spends a lot of time with us teaching us new skills like reading and writing. She also lets us play with toys and we also sing and dance. I am performing well in class because I have had a chance to learn so many things in our class here at Youth Rising. In the future, I want to be a doctor who only treats children because I don’t like when myself or my siblings fall sick and skip school”.