How reading classes can help Zimbabwe

Sleeping on a mud hut floor has given a peculiar authenticity to Clare Kenrick's Africa literacy packs, being sold to raise money for the world's poor. Helen Ward reports

Clare Kenrick has gone out of her way to bring her pupils inspiring literacy lessons - by flying 5,000 miles to Africa.

Other literacy co-ordinators may wrestle with phonics, but Mrs Kenrick, 48, a teacher at Holy Family RC primary, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, had to negotiate her way through police roadblocks and sleep on the floor of a mud hut.

Her experiences have been turned into a series of one-week lesson plans for every primary year group, which are being sold to raise money for the developing world.

She also hopes schools will find them useful in teaching citizenship, which is now an optional part of the primary curriculum.

Mrs Kenrick's three-week trip in 2000 took her to Zimbabwe, troubled even then, and Zambia. She visited education, health and trade projects as a guest of Catholic charity Cafod. She said: "There was a debate about whether it was safe to go to Zimbabwe. We were stopped by the police a few times. It did feel tense. The hotel in Harare had an armed guard at the door and high walls with barbed wire on top. But the people we met could not have been nicer."

Mrs Kenrick visited villages and towns with three other teachers. She said:

"On one visit we stayed in a remote village and slept on the floor of a mud hut. I helped milk cows, or tried to, much to their amusement. But it was all useful because in the classroom these are details the children want to know."

The lessons based on her trip have been written with help from her colleague Carolyn Briggs, of Immaculate Conception primary, Spinkhill, Derbyshire.

They range from a reception class lesson comparing a day in the life of an English child and a Zimbabwean child to a Year 6 debate about the merits of hydroelectricity, based on the Kariba Dam.

Frank McDermott, director of education for the Hallam diocese and a former inspector, said: "The work links beautifully with the literacy strategy and encourages schools to explore global issues."

The resource pack is available from encircling@btopenworld.com at pound;26.50 plus post and packing

AFRICA FOR ALL AGES

The resource pack contains material for each primary year group. Activities include:

* Reception - compare a day in the life of an English child and a Zimbabwean child.

* Year 1 - look at UK and African household items, asking questions, and comparing them. For example: a well compared to a tap.

* Year 3 - compare two stories, one about a boy in England who does not want to go to school and one about an African boy whose family does not want him to go to school.

* Year 4 - a play that children can perform about orphans. Using information from the play write a report.

* Year 6 - debate on the Kariba Dam and its impact.

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