More than 50 of CODE’s most loyal supporters braved the humidity last week to attend CODE’s annual donor reception - held this year at the beautifully renovated allsaints community space in Sandy Hill. The reception date, Thursday September 8th, was very à propos as it marked the 50th anniversary of UNESCO’s International Literacy Day and the launch of the new Global Education Monitoring Report.
Scott Walter, CODE’s Executive Director, hosted the evening and paid special tribute to one of CODE’s most generous donors, William “Bill” Burt. Mr. Burt became involved with CODE in 2007 after taking part in its 2007 Seeing is Believing Tour to Ethiopia. Upon his return from that trip, Bill became a devoted and exceptionally generous CODE supporter. His first order of business? To help CODE get engaging books into the hands of young adults. In 2008, The Burt Award for African Literature was launched in Tanzania to recognise excellent, engaging and culturally relevant books. Burt Award programs for three more African countries soon followed. There are now Burt Award programs for Caribbean Literature and, most recently, First Nations, Inuit and Métis Literature.
Poor health prevented Mr. Burt from receiving the CODE Director’s Award but accepting it on his behalf were dignitaries from three countries in which the Burt Award program has made a tremendous impact -- namely Ms. Ukubi Hanfere Mohammed, First Secretary, public diplomacy of the Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Mr. Paul James Makelele from the Tanzanian High Commission, and Dr. Sulley Gariba –High Commissioner to Ghana.
Other attendees included CODE board member Rosamaria Durand, long-time CODE member and donor, Gwynneth Evans, and Afreenish Yusirah –CODE’s new CODE on Campus representative from Carleton University.
The event was also an opportunity for CODE to acknowledge 25 years of partnership with its UNESCO award-winning partners the Children’s Book Project of Tanzania and Associação Progresso of Mozambique.
The event concluded with the exciting announcement of CODE’s 2017 Seeing is Believing –Ghana tour. His Excellency, Dr. Sulley Gariba, High Commissioner to Ghana, personally extended an invitation to the audience promising participants a very warm welcome to his country. The tour, set to begin on February 15th 2017, will provide participants with the opportunity to visit children and teachers engaged in CODE’s programming in schools in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.
by Hila Olyan, CODE’s Director of International Programs
I look around the room. Here I am in Kumasi Ghana with a dozen primary and middle school teachers and their trainers. We are here as part of Reading Ghana, an Asanko Gold and CODE co-funded project implemented by CODE together with the Ghana Book Trust, (CODE’s partner since 1990), in support of literacy in the Ashanti region of Ghana.
The workshop participants are part of the second cohort of teachers to be trained as part of the project. They are practicing strategies for teaching reading and writing in their classrooms.
I watch them practice. The idea is to promote learner-centered, participatory approaches to teaching. And so, in the spirit of participation, the teachers are taking turns practicing the approaches as the remainder of the group pretends to be students – participating in the lesson, asking questions, sometimes even given the teacher at the front a little bit of a hard time.
It’s easy to forget that the workshop participants are in fact teachers and not students themselves. I look around the room again. They are a young bunch. Bridget, the sole woman in the group, is just 25. She earned her teaching diploma last year and has just begun teaching grade 4.
“I know things, and I want kids to know things. Education is important.”
–Bridget, Ghanaian Teacher
I ask her what it’s like to be the only woman in the group. She smiles. She is used to it. At her school, there are 17 teachers. Just five are women. Women aren’t frequently assigned to the remote areas like the one where she works. It’s dangerous, it’s far, the conditions are difficult. I ask her why she teaches there. Again, she shrugs, “I know things, and I want kids to know things. Education is important.” We talk some more. Even Bridget admits that while she is satisfied with her work and school, she is not sure how long she will want to stay in a remote place or in a profession which doesn’t pay too well and isn’t often revered by the community.
I ask her what she thinks of the workshop. “It's good. I like it.” She goes on to say that it brings together teachers from different schools but in similar situations. They talk, they form a community of practice. They relate to each other and learn from each other. “I feel like I am part of something,” she says.
Will the training be enough to keep Bridget teaching? It’s hard to say. But it has already made an impact. I watch how excited she is, and how excited her peers are. I am confident they will give these new strategies a try in their classrooms. (Our experience with the first cohort tells us they will). I am also confident that we are beginning to build a sense of professionalism among the teachers. They see themselves not as ‘just the teacher’ but as people who will shape the opportunities and the futures of the children in their classrooms. They begin to see what is possible – from their peers, from their trainers (each of whom has made a career in education), from the changes they will see in the students.
I told Bridget that what she is doing is important. “You’re a role model, you know, to girls in your classroom. They don’t have many opportunities to see a strong, educated woman. You can inspire them. You can teach them. You can make a difference.” I say it because I believe it. Bridget is making a difference. Reading Ghana is making a difference.
Hila Olyan is CODE’s Director of International Programs
by Abdul Kanu and Johanna Kuyvenhoven
One of the highlights from Revitalising Education Development in Sierra Leone (REDiSL) happens when a dozen children come to learn with us. For 45 minutes or more, they take up a cluster of desks at the front and make our learning “real”. During the session, three or four teacher participants lead children through a teaching of reading lessons. The children aren’t the only ones learning. We all are!
The children come earlier than most teacher-participants. They fill the playground and school veranda with talk, play, and laughter. When the bell rings they watch the 376 teachers-in-training make their ways into the 12 classrooms. They are left sitting in a long, longing row; waiting for 9:30. Then, they’ll eat breakfast with us and then join us in the classroom.
Teacher-participants take turns, in small groups, conducting a lesson with the children. Every session is centered around an apt story or poem. Teachers introduce the lesson with a snappy-chant and then go to prepare for comprehension with questions, a storytelling, some drawings or objects to talk about. Having gained children’s interest and established a context for thinking about the reading, the next participant steps up to work with the reading. Again, using children’s L1 or, as it is called here: children’s Mother Tongue, a participant introduces the (English) text and reads slowly, translating, explaining line by line. After reading and talking together, the next participant follows up the reading with talking, drawing; directing a dramatic replay or other comprehension activities. Finally, the lesson moves to working with words we learned in the text. We do an onset and rime or vocabulary activity with the word wall. When the children leave we discuss what we’ve learned. Inevitably, it’s a lot.
This practice has been extraordinarily educative. Participants learned about, and then practiced or watched the rhythm of a reading activity that ensures children’s interest and comprehension. The observe and learn about children’s reading activity and independent literacy practices afterward. Participants saw for themselves that children can read a new text with the teacher, instead of repeating line by line. They discovered that children, given the opportunity, have “very clever ideas”! Children are quite able to draw and try to write without copying. Given gentle, persistent guidance, children do catch on to onset and rime patterns and more.
Perhaps best of all, they have experienced the ways in which children’s own languages are critical to learning activity and comprehension. In our classrooms, the arguments were passionately for only English use. Faced with the children faces, and experiencing strong evidence of the ways genuine comprehension of a text or task crushed the argument. Participants saw reading come to new life and energy; children’s responses eager and informed. They found themselves making more extensive and authentic use of Mother Tongue to teach reading; to learn about sounds and letters, and gather up richer meanings for the words in their stories.
There is another reason for the success of the Fishbowl. The activity is consistent with oral cultural learning pedagogies. In our workshop, we have realized how Kono District participants come, rich with oral culture. Participants use speech and personal interactions in complex ways, with confidence and power.
In the classroom when we ask for volunteers to give an oral summary, a story or lead the discussion, almost the entire class clamors for the honor. Participants memorize a song or reading after hearing it twice. We find participants to be skillful listeners and orators. Classrooms ring with conversations, songs, chants, vigorous discussions and more. As we enlarge the potentials of language with print practices, we are learning to use this rich scaffolding ‘space.’
We won’t pretend this was easy to pull together. Gathering and organizing 86 lively children; coaxing teachers who don’t usually interact with children in these ways; working through the awkwardness of new methods ... these are just some of the challenges we all faced. But, gentle persistence led to the thrill of clear learning achievements.
At the conclusion, the Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) office gave every child a notebook, pencil, and sharpener. An apt reward, one that recognizes a possible new beginning: Children who read and write.
Abdul Kanu and Johanna Kuyvenhoven are trainers working with CODE in Sierra Leone to deliver professional development to upgrade teachers skills through the REDiSL initiative.
An article written by CODE's Executive Director, Scott Walter is featured in the Diplomat & International Canada magazine - Summer 2017 issue - Notes from the field: Literacy thanks to CODE.
The full issue is also available at
By: Heloísa Modesto, CODE Programme Manager and Gender Specialist
“I decided to become a teacher because I like to share my knowledge with others.” -Isaquiel Vicente
What a surprise to discover that Isaquiel Vicente - a teacher I met today at the IFP Joaquim Chisane in Pemba, Cabo Delgado, had years before attended an elementary school I had visited in the district of Montepuez back in 2001! Isaquiel, now 21, is the perfect example of young Mozambican who has benefited from the long-term commitment of CODE, with Associação Progresso, and the Canadian Government supporting primary education in Cabo Delgado in Mozambique.
Isaquiel was a primary student at Escola Completa de Alto Gingone, at a time when the education system in Mozambique was expanding rapidly as it tried to meet the Education For All Millenium Development Goals. At that time, CODE and Progresso - with funds from a bilateral project funded by Canada - supported in-service training as the high demand for teachers had left the government with no choice but to hire untrained teachers.
Our initiative also promoted the development of local, mother-tongue children’s books in Mozambique and created school libraires. In a country where often student teachers have never had access to children books themselves, I was very excited to find out that Isaquiel had read several children books, and his favourite book was Ladrão de Tesouros, from Machado da Graça – a book that was published as part of the national literature contexts and provided to his primary school by our former project in Cabo Delgado.
Isaquiel explained: “I decided to become a teacher because I like to share my knowledge with others” and by being a reader, Isaquiel will surely have much more to share with Mozambican primary students in the coming years. In his first month attending the teacher education program, Isaquiel was a finalist in the reading competitions promoted through the BETTER Project, which CODE and country partner Associação Progresso are implementing in his IFP to improve initial teacher education in Mozambique.
Parents around the world share a common and unwavering truth; a wish for what is best for their children.
As schools open this month, parents in Liberia, as with all of our partner countries, will hope to see their children attend school. However, in a country that emerged from two civil wars back-to-back and most recently survived an Ebola crisis, the need for educating children has never been more important.
As Hawa makes her way to her first day of kindergarten with her mother, it is an exceptionally meaningful moment. Her mother left school in grade 4 never to return. She can barely read and write. She has greater hope for her daughter.
And, given that girls continue to face greater challenges, her teacher, as with all others in our programs, will learn how to improve gender equality. Another critical element that will improve Hawa’s chances for success.
CODE will be there with her along the way. As we continue to work with our partners, such as the We-Care Foundation in Liberia, we will ensure that Hawa’s teacher will receive important training. She will learn how to focus more on her students in how she teaches reading and writing.
But as we focus on helping teachers to become better, we also know that they require essential tools, such as books. Books that will excite Hawa and her friends and inspire their learning.
Imagine how important it is for a child’s learning to open a book and see pictures that look like their reality. That tell stories that they can relate to with words that have meaning for them. And in many of CODE’s programs, books that are written in a child’s own language.
Your gift today can help place culturally reflective books into the hands of young children like Hawa; many of whom have never held a book before. You can help create the excitement to learn.
Last year alone, with your help, we were able to help train more than 2,800 teachers and librarians, help provide reading materials to over 1,300 schools, libraries and community centres, and inject over 400,000 books into learning environments in 15 countries around the world. That is impressive!
As this school year begins, I hope you will join me in helping children like Hawa and her teacher get off to a great start – in spite of so many other challenges they face. We hope that as she learns to read and write that, maybe, she will bring her newfound knowledge and abilities home and read to her mother, making her proud.
Director, Fund Development & Marketing
On May 18, 2016, Global Affairs Canada launched a review and public consultations process focused on renewing Canada’s international assistance policy, programming and funding framework.
The primary objective of the review is to determine how best to orient Canada’s international assistance on helping the poorest and most vulnerable populations, and supporting fragile states. The review will consider both the “what” of our international assistance, and the “how” of our approach, including ways to enable greater innovation and effectiveness in our policies, mechanisms and partnerships. The review will result in a set of evidence-based recommendations to Government, informing both Canada’s approach to international assistance and our international implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
All Canadians are invited to participate in this review from May to July 2016.
For more information on Canada’s international assistance review visit:
"I've met so many great people at CODE gatherings who have been able to share their talents and resources in the service of others. Some are retired officials from the Canadian government or UNESCO. Some are business executives. Some manage not-for-profit organizations. Some have built up nest eggs and want to use their funds to do some good.
Me? I'm just a guy who is fascinated by Africa, loves to teach reading and helping others do it, and enjoys writing children's books and helping others do that, too. I know all of us are grateful to CODE for the chance to use a talent or resource that might contribute to something bigger than ourselves.
Just recently I rode out across the dusty landscape of the Kongwa region in Tanzania with Pilli, Marcus, and Ramadhan from the Children's Book Project. At last we reached the most remote primary school I had ever seen.
As Ramadhan and I huddled in the back of a second grade classroom, we were soon in awe of an energetic teacher who led his students in chanting a lovely chorus. But I had to laugh when Ramadhan translated. It was an ode to CODE! The children were singing and dancing a thank you note to CODE for providing books, supporting their library, and giving their teacher new ideas for ways to teach them.
The gratitude was sincere. CODE really had done wonderful things for this school. And those kids? Lively, smart, energetic, motivated, cheerful. Any of them could be the next Kofi Anan, Wangari Matthai, Julius Nyerere, Nelson Madela.
And all of them can be happy citizens, loving mothers and fathers, peaceful citizens who love learning and value justice. Bring on the books! Keep going, CODE! What a privilege it is to be doing this work with you."
Charles (Charlie) Temple is a professor at Hobart & William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY.
"Volunteering with CODE as a member of the Reading Kenya team is a life-enhancing challenge for me; all my professional experience has been as an educator, beginning as a primary teacher working with indigenous children, and closing my career as a university professor. Reading Kenya draws on all my academic, professional and personal interests.
As an academic, I am concerned that teachers with whom I work, whatever their backgrounds, are respected and encouraged. CODE always carries out its projects with cultural sensitivity, and builds local capacity in literacy teaching.
As a professional, I choose materials and approaches that incorporate local knowledge. CODE provides books in the languages spoken by the teachers and children who are in schools served by their projects. In Reading Kenya, we have developed close professional and personal ties with the Kenyan academics on our team.
As a mother and grandmother, I dream of a world where all children have access to written materials, to educated and caring teachers, and to a healthy environment. CODE takes a holistic approach to education and adapts to the physical contexts of schooling. The education of girls is a priority.
I am proud to be a volunteer with Reading Kenya because people within CODE, including volunteers, have high ideals that support literacy for children and teachers in regions where there is a high need for improved access to materials and professional education for teachers. I am grateful for this opportunity to continue my work as a teacher educator, and to interact with enthusiastic Kenyan teachers and students."
Angela Ward is Professor Emerita at the University of Saskatchewan. Her research focuses on language in cross-cultural contexts; indigenous education; education for social justice and teacher education.
Internet access and even electricity are hard to come by in the remote places where CODE works. That’s why we were so delighted to receive this email from a teacher involved in one of our programs in Ghana.
I am Lucy, a teacher in Ghana, an assistant coordinator, and a lead trainer for the Reading Ghana program.
I chose to be a teacher after winning the Best Teacher award at a private school where I taught before going to Teacher Training School. The children were so dear to my heart and I taught them with all passion. Parents, teachers and pupils liked me very much due to how I handle children in classroom, helping them to write using my own style and songs.
I was able to organize the children in church for choreography, drama, bible quiz and teaching those who have problems in some topics in primary education. All of this threw more light on my capabilities, so I chose to go to Teacher Training College to help Ghanaian children at large. Before then, I thought I was to become a nurse, but I realized it was just their uniform that was enticing me.
CODE and the Ghana Book Trust are adding more value to teachers and pupils in Ghana. We can boast of new interactive strategies that have removed boredom and decreased absenteeism in Ghanaian children. It has also helped teachers in our communities to know that there is no such thing as a “dull child” when given equal opportunities.
These strategies help the pupils to interact freely with teachers, preparing them for debate and how to talk in public. It has raised the confidence level of teachers and allows them to be posted to any grade level in primary school and junior high school. Also, the teaching and learning materials which we supply to teachers have improved their way of teaching.
To crown it all, the Teacher Training College has agreed to add these strategies to their syllabus, since they have been part of the training and saw how effective it was.
Long live CODE! Long live the Ghanaian Book Trust!
Help teachers like Lucy to inspire a generation.