Learning to Read in Sixth Grade

03/20/14

Alieu had somehow made it to sixth grade without ever learning to read. He started school late, as many children in Sierra Leone do because their parents cannot afford school fees. By the time he was given the opportunity to attend Children of the Nations' school through COTN's child sponsorship program, it was hard for him to catch on.

Traditionally in Sierra Leone, children like Alieu would just sit through their classes. Even if they do not understand anything that is being taught, parents still want their child to attend school—and be promoted each year. It is rare for a child like Alieu to get any extra help.

In Carrie Hollingsworth's class, Alieu is getting the extra attention and review
In Carrie Hollingsworth's class, Alieu is getting the extra attention and review he needs to catch up with his grade level.

But COTN's school is different. For the past two years, Sierra Leone Education Director Joseph Lamboi has instituted a remedial class. "To my knowledge," Mr. Lamboi says, "we are the only school in Sierra Leone doing remedial." It took a while for this new idea to catch on in the community, which had never heard of such a thing before. But now that they have seen results, Mr. Lamboi says, "it has been very encouraging to both the students and the parents."

Lauren Simpson, a math teacher from Colorado, says the remedial class is the mos
Lauren Simpson, a math teacher from Colorado, says the remedial class is the most difficult class she's taught, but also the most rewarding.

Mr. Lamboi attributes this change in large part to a group of American teachers who have given one year of their lives to serve in COTN's school through the Go Teach Program. Each of the three teachers has their own classes and subjects to teach, but every one of them helps with the remedial class.

An additional teaching consultant, Carrie Hollingsworth, devotes most of her time to this class—both in school and in special classes after school. "When these children move on to secondary school, they will do very well because of the impact of the Go Teachers," Mr. Lamboi says.

Individualized attention is sometimes all these students need to catch up
Lauren works on math flashcards with Ibrahim, a student in the remedial class. Individualized attention is sometimes all these students need to catch up to their grade level.

Teaching young teenagers to read is no easy feat. "It's the most challenging class ever, but it's also the most rewarding," Lauren Simpson, one of the Go Teachers, says.

For Alieu, it has made all the difference in the world. "When we came, I did not know how to read," he says. "But now I can read, I can spell, I can write letters."  

Help a child like Alieu succeed! Sponsor a child in Africa today!

Could God be calling you to Go Teach in Africa for a year? Lauren and Carrie will be heading home this summer, and we need qualified teachers to take their place next fall. The children need a primary reading specialist and two secondary school teachers. Will you Go Teach?