Reading Promotion in Zambia : Lessons from Three Projects
Abstract: The aim of my thesis is to investigate three different reading projects, which have been set up to promote reading among school children in Zambia. I have used my field study together with some general observations to draw some lessons on the obstacles and challenges present in Zambia in relating literacy to culture among young people. In identifying these lessons, I have drawn on a theoretical framework which relates literacy to a cultural meaning system, addresses the importance of social interaction, as well as distinguishing between experienced and instrumental reading. My methods have been observations and semi-structured interviews with organisers, teachers and students involved in the three projects. The interviews have been based on four research questions. These have been used to solicit the opinions about the reading projects, what challenges they have confronted, what the participating children actually read, and the views and attitudes towards reading as reflected within the projects. In my study I found that two of the projects had adopted an approach in which social interaction was an essential element to promote reading. My study revealed that an instrumental attitude dominated towards reading, partly explained by what books were being supplied. I further concluded that one important obstacle for promoting literacy was related to the use of foreign language as an educational tool, and hence seen as providing a “social ladder”, as compared to the vernacular language.
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