Participatory Literacy Learning in an African Context: Perspectives from the Ombaderuku Primary School in the Arua District, Uganda

TitleParticipatory Literacy Learning in an African Context: Perspectives from the Ombaderuku Primary School in the Arua District, Uganda
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsNgaka, W, Masagazi, MF
JournalJournal of Language and Literacy Education
Date PublishedSpr 2015
KeywordsAfrican Languages, Case Studies, Educational Policy, Elementary School Students, Ethnography, Foreign Countries, Home Visits, Information Technology, Interviews, Language of Instruction, Literacy Education, Material Development, Native Language, Observation, Participatory Research, Political Influences, Program Descriptions, Qualitative Research, Reading Materials, Teaching Methods, Technological Literacy, Workshops

This study documents the experiences of volunteer teacher research assistants in relation to pupils' interaction with parents, texts, and informal literacy practices in the community, and considers how these practices may enhance literacy instruction and production of local reading materials. The research site was located in the context of Uganda's mother tongue education policy, driven by a whole language approach to teaching literacy in one primary school in the Arua district. Locating the research in sociocultural and ethnographic perspectives on literacy, the authors use observation, document analysis, and informal interviews to capture the phenomena of interest in the project. Findings show that although pupils, parents, and community members engaged in informal literacy practices and interact with cultural resources and written texts including Information and Communication Technology (ICT) literacies on an everyday basis, such cultural resources, informal practices, and written texts outside the classrooms have not been adequately used to enhance participatory teaching and learning of literacy. Further, local materials development in the implementation of Uganda's current language policy was characterized by lack of local reading materials and declining literacy levels among pupils. The authors recommend building research, teaching, and materials development capacity for promoting various literacies including digital literacies and for enhancing authentic literacy instruction.