Through Ready2Read Malawi, children and their caregivers find Talking Books easy to use
During a recent community meeting, the Ready2Read Malawi team was surprised to see a small boy named Andrew pick up a Talking Book and demonstrate how to use it.
Malawi ranks lowest in southern Africa for education performance; 74% of students in grade 2 fail to recognize a single alphabet letter. In response, ILC Africa launched the Ready2Read Malawi project in partnership with Amplio and the Association of Early Childhood Development in Malawi (AECDM). The project is using the Amplio Talking Book as an EdTech solution to engage preschool children, educate parents and caregivers, and support 50 community-based childcare centers (CBCCs).
Andrew is one of the children who benefit from Ready2Read.
"Community members were called together to discuss issues to do with supporting child language and learning skills. Not all of the parents had used the Talking Book, so we decided to train them," said Neila Henderson, a caregiver for Katonda CBCC.
Parents were put into groups of five to six, and Andrew was there with his mom. That's when Nelia observed Andrew telling his mother how to switch on the device.
"Andrew was able to follow the Talking Book's audio instructions on how to navigate and use the device. I asked how he learned and he said, 'My teacher taught me,'" Neila said.
Andrew’s mother commented that Andrew has improved his performance in class because of what he is learning in school. Previously, the children only used to sing the calendar and alphabet songs but now Andrew is able to mention different colors and talk about nature that surrounds him. Sometimes he emulates what his teachers have taught him that day and teaches his older brothers and sisters at home.
According to Neila, Andrew had only used the Talking Book two other times. However, he found the device easy to use and had formed an opinion about the content.
"He told me his favorite Talking Book lessons are on colors and nature, and Mwezi Uwale ('Let the moon shine') is his favorite song," said Neila.
“Andrew has proven that the Talking Book can also be used by children. It can improve children’s language and learning skills—contrary to what parents initially thought when we introduced the technology.”
Through Ready2Read Malawi, caregivers like Neila also benefit. She said the Talking Book makes preparation for lessons easier and classes more interesting.
"The Ready2Read content is in line with Malawi's ECD curriculum. It's nice to have it recorded on the Talking Book. The device is easy to use and very portable."
Ready2Read was made possible through the support of the All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development, with founding partners United States Agency for International Development (USAID), World Vision, and the Australian Government.