University of Jyväskylä

Success for Zambian GraphoGame in an international literacy innovation competition

The Zambian version of GraphoGame, developed by the University of Jyväskylä, was selected as one of the 14 grantees in a literacy innovation competition by USAID, World Vision and the Australian Government. The All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development grant competition, now held for the second time, received over two hundred proposals, and the GraphoGame project was one of the five selected innovations for supporting literacy in one’s mother tongue. UNESCO Professor Heikki Lyytinen, the inventor of GraphoGame, is pleased with the success:
                      -This is a great acknowledgement for the literacy work in Zambia. The project builds on the previous research funded by the Academy of Finland and on the establishment of the Centre for the Promotion of Literacy in Sub-Saharan Africa (CAPOLSA) at the University of Zambia with the support from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. The local coordinator in Zambia is Dr. Jacqueline Jere-Folotiya, who defended her Ph.D. research in Finland on the use of GraphoGame in Zambia.

Focus of the project is disseminating research-based information about literacy instruction to the teachers in rural Zambia. Teachers can use mobile phones to learn essential knowledge for good literacy education and supporting children who are struggling with learning basic reading skills.  In Zambia, many teachers have only a short college education, and many attended school during the time when the language of instruction was English. Literacy instruction in English and Zambian languages is very different, so teachers benefit from additional training in teaching literacy in local language.

GraphoGame has been piloted also in rural areas in Zambia, and even adults have shown interest in learning to read with the game. In Africa many everyday services, such as banks, operate through mobile phones, so learning literacy by playing a mobile game opens the possibility for many kinds of social participation. GraphoGame activities are taking place also in Kenya, Namibia and Tanzania, so the Zambian project to develop mobile phone-based service teacher training can be useful in other parts of Africa as well.
                      - The effectiveness of GraphoGame has been studied in detail, so it's time to move on to develop practical operational services. Literacy is a necessity for a functioning society, without which development in other areas of life is very difficult. Training teachers with mobile phones and providing GraphoGame for learners can be part of a wide range of development projects.
All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development project complements the UNESCO Chair Inclusive Literacy Learning for All in which Professor Heikki Lyytinen aims to promote global literacy research and implementation of research-based knowledge in literacy instruction. Zambian-Finnish cooperation for a better literacy can now pave the way for literacy support around the world.

Visit our project website http://allchildrenreading.org/innovators/agora-center-the-university-of-jyvaskyla/

For more information contact Emma Ojanen, emma.ojanen@jyu.fi

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