Language and Learning Foundation

Language and Learning Foundation

Distance learning course for teacher educators to design early grade reading programmes

The Opportunity

Reading is a foundational skill since it forms the basis of most other learning activities in the classroom. Ensuring that students learn to read early and well is the most important way of ensuring that every child gets an equal opportunity to learn at the primary stage of schooling. The ASER 2014 findings show that only 23.6% students studying in grade 3 could read a grade 2 level text. This proportion improved to only 48.1% by grade 5. In grade 3, 14.9% students could not read anything, while 25% were still managing to only recognize the letters.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development has launched a programme called ‘Padhe Bharat, Badhe Bharat’ (Early reading and writing with comprehension and Early Mathematics Programme) under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in 2014. From 2013-14, each state and UT is expected to design and implement programmes for early grades reading. However, a quick review of the process for development of such programmes and the training modules shows that there is a huge scope for improvement in the understanding of principles and practices for teaching reading among the state and district level faculty of teacher education institutions (TEIs).

The Model

Language and earning foundation aims to provide an online/distance course to enable the teacher educators to develop instructional designs and other components of an early grades reading programme. The course includes 12 modules with essential and recommended readings, assignments to be completed after each module, fortnightly conference calls to discuss each module, and guidance to individual participants on email and phone. Each module is expected to be completed in around fifteen days.

The course is conducted at two levels. The first level focuses more on conceptual issues and an understanding of research based practices for teaching reading in grades 1 and 2. The second level is more focused on practical application of the understanding developed during the first level to classroom situations and for developing EGR programmes. A six-month pilot distance learning programme on EGR (called ‘Every Child Reading’: ECR) was conducted between March and December 2014 for faculty of TEIs and SSA programme personnel. This year, after incorporating the feedback from the pilot, the course will be launched with around 100 teacher educators and programme personnel.

Language and Learning Foundation also envisions establishment of an Early Literacy and Learning Institute for professional development (primarily) in the area of language and early literacy. This institute will provide distance/online learning programmes, workshops, and year long capacity building programme among other activities related to the area of language and early literacy.

Potential for Systemic Impact

Language and Learning Foundation will design the early grade reading course and implement the same with around 100 teacher educators in its first batch in a distance learning mode. This course will set a precedent for launching research based professional development courses for in-service teachers on early literacy and language development. This will catalyse capacity building and development of improved EGR interventions by government institutions. It will also highlight best practices involved in design and delivery of distance learning courses.