Advanced literacy course graduation in francophone Africa

TPA has helped me to develop my professional teaching skills and my ability to help others to manage their projects and start up new literacy centers.

-course participant

(September 2009) Twenty-three participants from nine francophone African countries graduated on 26 August from the Literacy Theory and Practice Course (TPA) held in Burkina Faso, West Africa.

The course was officially recognized and endorsed by the West Africa Cluster office of UNESCO. TPA is sponsored jointly by Burkina Faso's Association for Bible Translation and Literacy (ANTBA) and SIL Africa Area. In attendance at the graduation ceremony were representatives from Burkina Faso's Ministry of Basic Education and Literacy, UNESCO, national NGOs, government literacy and education programs, national church organizations and other partners.

Each graduate received a letter of endorsement from UNESCO along with a certificate of completion. Graduation ceremonies celebrated the accomplishments of the participants, who have completed the third month-long phase of the three-year curriculum. During the other eleven months of each year, the participants returned to their countries and communities, resuming their administrative positions. A similar course in English was held in Kenya in 2004–2006. Dates have not yet been set for repeating the course, either in English or in French.

This first graduating class was comprised of students from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Niger, the Republic of Congo and Togo.

group photo of course participants














Third-year studies at TPA focused on three literacy methodologies, teacher training for each method, and the development and evaluation of educational materials. The course was designed to help learners make the link between literacy theory and practice. All of the participants were experienced mother-tongue literacy workers. The course also provided a solid foundation in the theories behind their own literacy work so graduates are now more able to advise others and adapt methodologies to various contexts and needs.

Students experienced various ways to teach reading, writing and math. They studied the basics of how the different methods work and why the methods are designed in certain ways. As they discussed various applications, participants learned from the diverse contexts and experiences of colleagues involved in other projects.

Topics addressed during the three-year course

  • program planning
  • strategies for innovation and change
  • literacy and advocacy issues from international to local levels
  • orthographies (writing systems)
  • reading theory
  • learning theory
  • cross-cultural issues (including cooperating in teams)
  • multilingual education
  • transitional literacy
  • testing and evaluation
  • epistemology
  • numeracy
  • basic computer issues
  • management and supervision from national to local levels
  • materials development
  • literacy methods
  • teacher training
  • trouble-shooting and analysis
  • professional development

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