Written by: Lilly Bess

“A!” … “No.” … “K?”… “No.” … “L? “… “Maxwell, no, it’s E.”

These conversations are quite familiar to me as a Literacy Teacher at the Fafali Organization. However, what is truly remarkable and not so common is the astonishing progress of Maxwell and his evoked enthusiasm for reading.

Maxwell was much like any other student in our literacy class, struggling to connect letters to their corresponding sounds, a challenge particularly prevalent among children in the Anumle Electoral Area due to inadequate education and lack of guidance at home, resulting in a 70-85% illiteracy rate among children. Through the Need to Read Project initiated by the Fafali Organization, we want to address this issue. We have initiated two literacy classes that we hold five times a week at a public school. In this class, we start with the basics and gradually improve over time.

But let’s refocus on Maxwell:

During the initial weeks of our program, Maxwell encountered difficulties recalling the sounds associated with various letters. His lack of motivation manifested in his habitual lateness and his foolish behavior in class. After addressing phonics and completely learning the ABC, the next hurdle was segmenting and blending, a crucial step for reading. Unfortunately, Maxwell struggled with blending sounds as well.

However, after consistent daily practice over the course of a few weeks, something seemed to click for him. He effortlessly tackled two-letter words and even three-letter words weren’t a challenge for him anymore . His newfound motivation was evident in his improved punctuality and his eagerness to engage in reading activities.

Maxwell applied his newfound skills diligently and soon rose to the top of the class and can read simple texts almost fluently. The pinnacle of his progress occurred after the Fafali End-of-Year Party in 2023 when each child received a storybook. I instructed the children to bring their books for the next lesson, and to my surprise, Maxwell proudly declared that he had already read his. Skeptical, I tested him by randomly selecting pages for him to read, and he flawlessly recited each one. It turned out he had read the book with his friends multiple times to memorize it. His determination and motivation left a lasting impression on me.

A text from the book Maxwell read

While Maxwell still faces challenges and isn’t yet fluent in reading without errors, his ability to read an entire book almost independently marks a significant milestone. Beyond his remarkable progress in reading skills over a period of nearly four months, what truly delights me is his proud smile—a symbol of his great achievement and renewed interest in reading.

Thank you for reading!