The of voluntary reading demonstrate a positive attitude

 

The ability to read proficiently is
a fundamental skill that affects the learning experiences and school
performance of children and adolescents. Students who are competent readers, as
measured by their performance on reading tests, are more likely to perform well
in other subjects, such as math and science Children who struggle with reading
and reading comprehension also often have deficits in spoken language. Students
with reading difficulties are much less likely to be academically engaged.
Reading achievement predicts the likelihood of graduating from high school and
attending college. The common sense notion that students who
do a substantial amount of voluntary reading demonstrate a positive attitude
toward reading is upheld in both qualitative and quantitative research (Long
and Henderson 1973; Greaney 1980; Hepler and Hickman 1982; Greaney and Hegarty
1987; Reutzel and Hollingsworth 1991; Shapiro and White 1991; Mathewson 1994;
Barbieri 1995; Short 1995). Students’ reading achievement has been shown to
correlate with success in school and the amount of independent reading they do
(Greaney 1980; Anderson, Fielding and Wilson 1988). This affirms the
predictability of a success cycle: we become more proficient at what we
practice (Cullinan 1992).

1.2 Statement
of problem

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The children of Hehekpoe
Salvation Army School face certain challenges when it comes to reading
independently. From our interactions we realized some of the children easily
comprehend texts that come with pictures but can not make head or tail of texts
without pictures. They know some words in isolation  and can not recognize this words when seen in
other books. This all boils down to their interest in the act of reading
independently and their dislike for reading in itself. Some children are not
very confident a and will not even try .

 

1.3 Objective

 At  the end of the project pupils of the Hehekpoe
Salvation Army will develop a hunger for reading.  Reading will not be just what they do in
class but a culture, that is their way of life and second nature. That they
will understand that readers are leaders and reading makes one confident in all
aspects of life.

 

 

1.4 Weaknesses /challenges                                 

The major challenge for
us is that of  the language. The language
the pupils are very comfortable with is the ewe language and it makes
communication between us  the
facilitators and them quite a herculean task.. Most often than not they do not
even understand what we are trying to convey 
to them. This may be a hindrance in our bid to achieve our aim.  Also aside the theatre aspect of the project
aimed at peaking their interest in reading. Helping them to understand what
they read might be challenging due to time constraint of the project

 

1.5 Method

For the success of the project we intend to
use a combination of  different Theatre
for Development processes ,Forum theatre (also known as ‘popular theatre’ or
‘participatory theatre’) is, a form of participatory arts and is, at base, theatre as democratic
political forum. Each project is stimulated by a specific community’s
experience of disempowerment and struggle, and the desire for creative
solutions and capacity-building through egalitarian means. Forum theatre is
designed to achieve this by, first, developing a conventional play that reflects
the community’s lived experience of a chosen issue and culminates in unresolved
crisis and in this case the reading problem of this children. This play is then
presented to the broader public in a participatory format such that the
knowledge, aspirations and capacities of this public may be brought to bear on
the exploration of viable solutions on the stage. After observing the play a
first time, the play is performed again; audience members are invited to stop
the play at any point, replace a character whose experience they feel they
understand, and attempt to change the course of dramatic action. In this way,
spectators are transformed into “spect-actors”, not only observing but truly
acting to change the scenes they are presented (Boal 1995: 13) this will
however be done during the rehearsal time with the help of the other students,
teachers and parents. The goal of participatory approach Is to help
student to understand the social, or cultural
forces that affect their lives, and then to help empower students to take action and make
decision in order to gain control over their lives. We intend to employ the
Ngugi Wa’Thiongo process also where the local language is what will be used for
the drama. This will be tricky because we are driving home the need for reading
and might sound confusing that we want to use their local language. This
formula is however tried and tested , the local language tends to push the
message deeper into their minds and achieves greater success.

                                                                   

 

1.6 Main activities and time frame

1.      Feasibility
studies – 19th October- 21st October 2017

 

2.      Scriptwriting
and rehearsal- 12th December – 17th Decemer 2017

 

3.      Arrival
of volunteers/ facilitators – 26th January 2018

 

4.      Open
day reading time with volunteers technical rehearsal -27th January
2018

       5.Durbar
and performance- 28th January 2018

 

Feasibility
studies

                            My project partner
and I  Ellen Ansah have been in talks
with one Robert Tornu director and project manager of adanu Ghana a community education
organization  based in the Volta Region
of Ghana. We planned a trip to Hehekpoe one of their pilot schools on Thursday
19TH October 2017. We arrived around 10:00  am in Ho to meet Robert and his colleague
Jerry John Tamakloe. We spoke briefly in the office as to what to expect and
preparations made for our arrival. We were then taken to the Hehekpoe Village
which was some 40 minutes drive from the Ho Township. Upon arrival we were
introduced to the  headmaster of  Salvation Army school Mr Richard Dunyo. We
met the headmaster in Mr Dunyo office and briefed him on our mission. The head
master went on to introduce us to the teachers of the school ,from  kindergarten to junior high.

                        We immediately went on
to meet the pupils of upper primary section jointly that is classes four, five
and six,  they numbered a total of
fifty-three. We first introduced ourselves to them. We went through an exercise
where randomly we gave them books to read to us. Some were able to read, some
were not, and when asked to tell us what they had just read they had such great
difficulty. We realized apart from the reading problem they had comprehension
challenges as well. Some could express themselves when asked to explain what
they read in ewe , meaning they could understand but could not express it in
English.  It was time for closing ,we
took the books back and distributed another set 
encouraging them to read before class the next day. We arranged an
evening one on one session with a section of the pupils. Some of the students
commute from neighbouring villages so could not make it for the evening
session.

         After the pupils were dispersed  my project partner and I took  a transect walk ,accompanied by two teachers
and the headteacher. We walked the length and breadth of the village, speaking
to random people, familiarizing with the community. We also paid a visit to the
chief of the community, however plans to meet the DCE and member of Parliament
of the area proved futile because they were not available. We returned to our
place of abode a little before nightfall.

               During the evening session we were able to
attend to the children on a more personal basis. We realized during this time
that some of the children knew the words in isolation and could not pronounce
one word when they met with the same word in another book. The evening session
ended around 8;00pm.

The next morning which
was a friday happened to be grounds work day for the school. We started our
interaction for the day after the first break period for the upper primary
pupils. This time around we met them in their individual classrooms. Ellen met
the primary four pupils and I  met the
primary five pupils.  We asked them to
read to us the books given them the day before and it was evident that they had
made an effort to try and read even though it was not perfect and they still
could not express what they read. The books were swapped again in the various  classes.

                The pupils in class six had a
test hence we moved to speak to those in form two. They were more vocal than
the primary pupils and communication was not as difficult as in the previous
classes. We interrogated a story in one of their books and realized it was
either they had forgotten or didn’t know how to express themselves.  Observing them we realized some of  them mouth what they want to say because they
are not very sure if they are correct or not. We spoke to them about how
reading makes you more confident when speaking and where they can get to when
they become ardent readers. We went ahead to introduce the drama to them. The
idea of they and their parents being a part of it seemed to excite them. Some
said they were to travel for the vacation but will stay around to be part of
writing the scriptwriting and rehearsal process. We then moved to interact with
the form three and one pupils. Here we changed the approach a little bit. We
asked them the last time they read  a
book aside their notebooks and no one could tell us. Randomly we asked some to
read from their own reading books and that was still challenging for them.

            We then requested they tell us what
they think is the problem. In the beginning they were reluctant in speaking but
after a little coaxing they opened up and every single person spoke up. Some
said they can read but do not understand, others said they do not remember what
they read because  they hardly read and
there were those who stated they do not like reading at all. We then asked them
how they think we can solve this problem. After their answers we told them
about the drama that they will be part of and they were also eager .

Finally we met with the
class six pupils briefly and we used the same approach used for the junior high
pupils. We led them to see what was wrong and fished out solutions from them.
Prospects of them writing a scripts and acting in their own drama really
excited them. The books given to them were returned to us and school was
dismissed for the day

           Later in the day Ellen and I met again
with the headteacher of the school where we discussed our finding sand the way
forward with respect to the project. Arrangements  for our return in December were also
discussed. Speaking to some of the teachers and observing their boards we
decided to learn the making of chalk and blackening of boards to teach the
children when we return in December.

We left for Sogakope on
Saturday morning where we boarded and Accra bound bus.

 

 

 

1.8
Conclusion.

This project is not full proof and bound to meet
certain hurdles but steadily and the help already tried tested processes we
hope to help this children of Hehekpoe Salvation Army School change their
habits of reading. The prospects of being in a drama should not end with the
excitement but a change that will start a ripple effect across the country as
we try to raise readers.