University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 17.9.2016 MA Francis Sampa (Faculty of Social Sciences, Psychology)

Start date: Sep 17, 2016 12:00 PM

End date: Sep 17, 2016 03:00 PM

Location: Mattilanniemi, Agora, Auditorio 2

MA Francis Sampa defends his doctoral dissertation in Psychology ”The outcomes of natíonal literacy programs on the basic reading skills in familiar language among Zambian early graders”. Opponent Professor R. Malatesha (Malt) ]oshi (Texas A & M University College Station) and custos Professor Heikki Lyytinen (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in English. 

In Zambia the Ministry of General Education implemented two national literacy programs in order to improve low levels of reading; the Primary Reading Program (PRP) implemented from 1999 to 2014 and the Primary Literacy Program (PLP) piloted in some schools in 2014 before being scaled up. This research examines the acquisition of basic reading skills among learners in familiar languages at the end of grade 2 in the two national literacy programs. I examined assessment results separately for each program and compared the two with each other. Outcomes were observed on the basis of the Early Grade Reading assessment test battery given to random samples of children (n=393) in 40 schools from 4 districts implementing PRP, and random samples of children (n=1,593) in 160 schools from 12 districts implementing PLP. Results showed a high percentage of zero scorers in each of the programs. There are no significant differences between boys and girls for each program.  Comparison of PRP with PLP, results showed a higher percentage of zero scorers for PRP than PLP. Comparison by each language, all results are in favour of PLP in Cinyanja only in letter-sound knowledge and non-word decoding and in Kiikaonde only in letter-sound knowledge. In Silozi results are in favour of PLP in all variables and in Icibemba in all variables except in reading comprehension. Comparisons by use of home language, in Cinyanja results showed significant differences in favour of PLP in letter-sound knowledge, non-word decoding and reading comprehension. In Icibemba significant differences occurred in orientation to print, letter-sound knowledge, oral passage reading and reading comprehension and in non-word decoding.  In Kiikaonde and Silozi results showed significant differences in letter-sound knowledge.  Comparison when home language was not the same as the language of instruction results in favour of PLP showed significant difference only in Silozi in listening comprehension.  Comparisons by gender, results favour both boys and girls in PLP in all variables except in orientation to print where boys obtained significantly higher mean rank scores than girls (in the degree PLP resulted in better scores). Overall, this research revealed slightly better results for the   PLP than PRP on the basic reading skills, more specifically in letter-sound knowledge and reading skills (non-word reading, oral passage reading and reading comprehension). The high peak of zero scorers for most measures is an indication that most children will not have learned to read and are thus in urgent need of better instructional support and further research is required in use of more efficient and effective interventions  in Zambia.

Key words: reading skills, Zambia, Primary Reading Program (PRP), Primary Literacy Program (PLP), Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA), familiar language, transparent writing systems, letter-sound knowledge. 

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Francis Sampa