breakthrough in literacy

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Literacy development is a process that spans through early childhood years and it is one
of the most important abilities children acquire as they progress through their early
school years. According to Elley (1994), the teacher needs to instill early literacy skills in the learners which will form the basis for future understanding of concepts, phonemic awareness, phonological awareness, knowledge of letters and comprehending stories among others. Literacy is fundamental in child's education and should be given due consideration by all
the education stakeholders. Absence of accurate knowledge on the factors influencing the
same will make it difficult to develop relevant strategies to guide in the development of
children's literacy. The researcher therefore will investigate the factors contributing to delayed breakthrough to literacy.

Submitted: July 05, 2017

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Submitted: July 05, 2017

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CHAPTER ONE

  1. INTRODUCTION

 This chapter discusses the background to the study, statement of the problem, purpose of
the study, objectives of the study, research questions and significance of the study,
limitations and delimitations of the study, hypothesis of the study, theoretical
framework and definitions of terms.

  1. BACGROUND TO THE STUDY

Education is perceived as one of the principal motivating factors behind national economic development and it is one of the most effective ways in which individuals can ever hope to achieve better opportunities and a higher standard of living. For these reasons, Zambia has invested heavily into its education system over the past years. Since independence in 1964, the government of Zambia has emphasized improving reading ability. Free primary education and adult literacy campaigns have been aimed at giving every Zambian the right to read. Literacy is fundamental for learning in school (Chen, 2001).

 According to Juel (1999) literacy is the ability to read and write and the heart of basic education for all. It also has an impact on an individual's ability to participate in society and to understand important public issues. During early years, children develop reading related behaviors that are very important for later reading. Children therefore need to develop appropriate literacy skills in early years to be able to engage successfully in other school levels. Studies done in Africa have shown dismal reading ability among primary school pupils, with over 92% not able to read at class level. A child who is a poor reader in first grade is 88% more likely to remain poor in fourth grade. From these studies it is clear that reading literacy is a widespread problem.
However, school language policy influences literacy achievement.

Elley (1994) reported that, schools which have a language policy adhered to give the learners an advantage in terms of acquiring language literacy. According to the language of instruction policy, the medium of instruction in rural pre-primary and lower primary schools should be mother tongue. Nevertheless, literacy materials are essential in enhancing the literacy of children. Therefore, providing children with literacy materials helps them read better.

 Chen (2001) who investigated the availability, acquisition and utilization of teaching - learning in English language found that the acquisition of teaching-learning resources were a challenge to most schools due to lack of finances and lack of time for teachers to develop teaching-learning resources. It was discovered that there acute shortage of language materials due to administrative, physical, and human factors which influenced the selection. Many pupils may continue to perform poorly in reading literacy tests and subsequently in
other academic subjects if the factors influencing reading literacy are not checked. The
current examination trends where by all subjects test literacy ability underscores the
importance of literacy among learners.

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Literacy development is a process that spans through early childhood years and it is one
of the most important abilities children acquire as they progress through their early
school years. According to Elley (1994), the teacher needs to instill early literacy skills in the learners which will form the basis for future understanding of concepts, phonemic awareness, phonological awareness, knowledge of letters and comprehending stories among others. Literacy is fundamental in child's education and should be given due consideration by all
the education stakeholders. Absence of accurate knowledge on the factors influencing the
same will make it difficult to develop relevant strategies to guide in the development of
children's literacy. The researcher therefore will investigate the factors contributing to delayed breakthrough to literacy.

1.3 PUPOSE OF THE STUDY

The purpose of the study is to investigate factors contributing to delayed breakthrough to literacy a case study of Nkhoka zone schools in Nkhoka zone, Chama district. The factor to be investigated includes;

  • Language of instruction
  •  Availability of reading literacy materials
  • Causes of delayed breakthrough to literacy in Nkhoka Zone schools

 

1.4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The study will be guided by the following objectives:

  1. To establish causes of delayed breakthrough to literacy in Nkhoka Zone schools
  2. To explore the influence of language of instruction on pupils' delayed breakthrough to literacy.
  3. To find out the influence of the availability of reading literacy materials to delayed breakthrough to literacy.

1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS

To achieve the above objective, the study will address the following research questions:
i)  What causes delayed breakthrough to literacy in Nkhoka zone schools of Chama district?
ii) How does the language of instruction influence pupils' reading in literacy level?
iii) How does the accessibility of reading literacy materials influence pupils' reading
literacy levels?

1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY

The findings of the study may be used to promote early breakthrough to literacy in
schools. Information on factors contributing to delayed breakthrough to literacy may be used by head teachers and school management to improve pupils' literacy. In addition, the findings may also be used by curriculum developers to develop appropriate literacy programmes to promote early breakthrough to literacy. Policy makers may also use the findings to develop policies that will support breakthrough to literacy in schools.

1.7 DELIMITATIONS AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

1.7.1 DELIMITATION OF THE STUDY

The study will be carried out in selected Chama district schools in Nkhoka zone, covering
public primary schools. There are several factors which delay breakthrough to literacy affect pupil’s literacy development; this study will be delimited to the language used as a medium of instruction, type of school, and accessibility of materials.

1.8 THEORETICAL AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK

This study will be guided by Holdaway's theory of literacy development to explore the
factors influencing reading literacy among children during the early years.
1.8.1 HOLDAWAY'S THEORY OF LITERACY DEVELOPMENT

Children learn literacy in the same way they learn language from interacting and
communicating with the people around them (Fredriksson, 2002). They unconsciously develop ways of knowing, understanding, and communicating within the family,
extended family, communities and society. This theory was based on observations of home environment where children learned how to read and write without direct instructions. Holdaway’s model combines a rich environment and supportive adults who intervene in their children's development for a skill to be induced. A child is to be rewarded and this makes the activity to be repeated leading to acquisition of required skill(s).
Denton (2002) has proposed that: Developmental learning is highly individualized and
non-competitive; it is short on teaching and long on learning; it is self-regulated rather
than adult-regulated; it goes hand in hand with fulfillment of real life purposes; it
emulates the behavior of people who model the skill in natural use.
 According to Holdaway, children develop ability to read through four processes. The
processes have a positive correlation to the factors to be addressed in this study, making
the theory relevant and more useful to the study. These four processes of literacy
development held by Holdaway can be briefly described as observation, collaboration,
practice and performance. One could correlate the processes of the theory with steps in a
lesson; for instance, the first two processes of observation and
collaboration are easily related as the "building background" and "presentation" portions of a literacy workshop lesson. Observation and collaboration depends on the type of school and language of instruction used in classroom.

 

 

 


1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS

Accessibility of reading materials: This refers to the resources available to learners
containing information that can be read and have opportunity to use them. This includes
course books, charts and any other material where information can be extracted.
Achievement in reading literacy: It refers to pupils' average scores in reading test at a
given test.

Reading literacy: Refers to ability of the learner to read.

 

CHAPTER TWO

LITERATURE REVIEW

2.0 Introduction

This section gives a systematic identification, location, and analysis of the pertinent and
related literature to the problem. This entails a review of literature on language literacy, achievement in breakthrough to literacy in schools, pupils reading literacy levels, pupils' language of instruction, accessibility of reading literacy materials and summary of literature review.

2.1 LANGUAGE LITERACY

According to Barnard (2001) literacy is the ability to read and write. On the other hand Esea (2005) defines literacy as the heart of basic education for all; everywhere one will look. One will see words on signs, in training manuals, on buses, and in books. That is
why it is so important to get children reading when they are young, long before they
become adults. Even though their physical survival may not depend on knowing how to
read a book, children do gain skills for coping with life when they learn to read (Denton, 2002).

Elley (1994) defines literacy as traditionally understood as the ability to read, write, and use arithmetic. The modern term's meaning has been expanded to include the ability to use language, numbers, images, computers, and other basic means to understand, communicate, gain useful knowledge and use the dominant symbol systems of a culture. The concept of literacy is expanding in countries to include skills to access knowledge through technology and ability to assess complex contexts.

 2.2 ACHIEVEMENT IN BREAKTHROUGH TO LITERACY IN SCHOOLS

A study conducted by Goodwin (2000) indicates that children's reading skills are
important to their success in school and work. In addition, reading can be a fun and
imaginative activity for children, which opens doors to all kinds of new worlds for
them. Reading and writing are the important ways which we use language to
communicate (Goodwin. 2000). Literacy is fundamental for learning in school and has an
impact on pupils' ability to participate in society and to understand important public
issues. Literacy provides the foundation upon which skills needed in the labor market are to be built. Early childhood literacy begins in pre-school or earlier, when books and pictures are introduced to children with the intention of getting them familiar with letters, numbers, and symbols.

Chen (2001) explains that children who fall in love with the experience of reading when they are young are likely to enjoy it when they are older. Early exposure to books, typically through being read to by a parent, grandparent, or other care-giver, instills in children a sense of security and warmth. The positive feelings these children get from book grows into a desire to read books for themselves when they are older.

2.3 LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION AND PUPILS' ACHIEVEMENT IN LITERACY

In Zambia, language policy requires that in lower primary schools, mother tongue
should be used as the language of instruction.

Benson (2004) reveals that schools which have a language policy adhered to gives the learners an advantage in terms of acquiring language literacy. Teachers' role therefore is to ensure a well-established language policy within the school environment. The language used in school assembly by the head-teacher and that used by teachers and counselors in advising pupils is an important aspect in the conceptualization of life skills. The language chosen in the school should be the one the learners should use to read and write. This study will determine whether school language policy influence pupils' achievement in literacy.

2.4 ACCESSIBILITY OF READING LITERACY MATERIALS AND PUPILS' READING LITERACY

Literacy materials are essential in enhancing the literacy of children. Studies by Chen (2001) have stressed the importance of literacy materials as they improve children's performance in literacy. Findings from the rigorous studies suggest that providing children with literacy materials helps them read better. 

Lack of books and other reading materials seem to be a widespread problem. The use of high-tech devices such as computers is very rare. Another condition of the schools is the inadequate facilities the classes are actually taught in. Some schools are located in warehouses while others in small houses. Many of the rural schools operate without electricity or trained personnel (Chen, 2001).

While many rural schools search for the proper resources, the distribution of government funds is major hindrance to the educational system. According to a recent study done by the World Bank, thirty percent of the total educational funding goes toward higher educational institutions (Fredriksson, 2002).

2.5. MEASURES OF IMPROVING DELAYED BREAKTHROUGH TO LITERACY

According to Goodwin (2000) the most effective methods of teaching literacy involve direct instruction of simplified phonics system; others however, suggest a more holistic method modeled after the way language is acquired. On the other hand, Epstein (2001) reported that inductive teaching is useful and effective because it presents units of knowledge from simple to complex, known to unknown, immediate to distant and specific to general. Learning something new enriches and stimulates the brain. An individual faces a novel stimulus; there is an indication of higher brain activity. Novelty challenges the brain for more activity. Thus a variety of innovative approaches which include; group work, reading camps, films, field trips, peer tutoring, learner-based approaches, use of resource persons in the community and project based learning are strategies that can be used by Zambian teachers to develop literacy skills of students.

There is also a need for the development of curriculum and instructional practices for teaching reading and writing to ‘struggling children and adolescents’ and to address the underlying causes of their reading and writing difficulties. Also, it is necessary to evaluate curriculum materials e.g. textbooks, workbooks etc. used for teaching reading and writing in schools. It is equally
important to provide up-to-date school libraries and instructional materials for the improvement of students’ reading skills at primary and secondary levels of education in Zambia (Elley, 1994).

 

However, to improve delayed breakthrough to literacy, school administrators in Zambia should adhere to the basic principle of quality control. These include monitoring literacy education in their schools to ensure accomplishment of stated objectives and planning how best to achieve them (Ibid, 1994).

 

CHAPTER THREE

3.0METHODOLOGY

This chapter describes the methodology that will be used in conducting the study. The chapter is organized under the following section: Research design, population, sample, and sampling procedure, instruments for data collection, procedure for data collection, data analysis, and ethical consideration.

3.1RESEARCH DESIGNS

In accordance with Creswell (2009), research designs are plans and procedures for research that span the decisions from broad assumptions to detailed methods of data collection and Tromp (2006) postulates that a research design can be thought of as the structure of research. It holds all the elements in a research project together. It is the conceptual structure within which research is conducted.

3.3 DATA COLLECTION AND PROCESSION

Data collection refers to the gathering of information to serve or prove facts. It involves collection of views on the attitudes of the people about the state of affairs of the phenomenon. Data collection is important in research as it allows for the dissemination of accurate information and development of meaningful programmes.

  3.2POPULATION

The study recruited 50 respondents from Nkhoka Primary School, Buli Primary School and Chitukula Primary School and Zibambale Community School in Chama district of Muchinga province. These comprise of managers, teachers and parents. 

3.3SAMPLE

The sample size for the study will be 50 respondents. This will be 10 pupils from each school and five teachers from each school making a total of 50.

 

 

3.4SAMPLING PROCEDURE

The study will use probability sampling procedure or design. To achieve this, simple random sampling procedure will be applied so that every participant or respondent had an equal chance to be in the sample. The 50 respondents will randomly be selected by giving them numbers from one to two. The number ones would then be picked to form the study sample. 

3.5INSTRUMENTS FOR DATA COLLECTION

The instruments to be used for data collection are questionnaires, interviews and observation. Questionnaires will be used because of their ability to collect data from large sample and their rigidity against biasness. The other justification is that, a questionnaire is relevant in this study because it assures the respondents confidentiality and it is of less time consuming where data collection and analysis is concerned.

3.6DATA COLLECTION PROCEDURE

Data will be collected during the year 2016. All respondents will be allowed to complete the questionnaire at least within a day.

3.7ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS

The study will be guided by the following ethical considerations:

  • Participants will be allowed to participate freely.
  • Names of participants will be kept anonymous.
  • Derogatory statements that can harm the respondents will be avoided.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES

Barnard, W.M. (2001). Parent Involvement in Early Schooling: Forbidham  University Press

Benson, C. (2004). The importance of mother tongue-based schooling for educational quality.  United Kingdom: Oxford University

Buchanan, A. (2004). Early Fathers and Mother's Involvement and Children's Later Educational Outcomes: New yolk: free press.

Chen. M. (2001). Literacy materials and Students' Academic Achievement:  United Kingdom: Oxford University

Denton, K. (2002). Children's Reading Achievement in Kindergarten Lind. Washington DC'. SA.

Elley, W.B. (1994). The Study of Reading Literacy: Achievement and Instruction in
Thirty-Two School Systems. Pergamon Press, Oxford, UK

Epstein, J.L. (2001). School, Family and Community Partnership: Preparing Educators and Improving Schools.

 Fredriksson, J. (2002). Reading Skills among Students: England: open University press.

Goodwin, D. (2000). Raising the Achievement of Low-Performing Students: New yolk: free press.

Juel, C. (1999). The Role of Decoding in Learning to Read. New York: Longman.


© Copyright 2017 MASEKO ACKSON. All rights reserved.

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