Promoting Language and Literacy

Through a holistic approach supporting local delivery structures, capacity-building and community engagement in rural Wolaita.

What we achieved

primary schools nominated teachers for intensive language and literacy training
supplementary reading and reference books provided per school in the languages of English, Amharic and Wolayttatto
students across Damot Sore and Damot Woide woredas (local districts) reached in year 3
teachers received intensive language and literacy training
more teachers demonstrated competency in reading at the end of the project
more teachers demonstrated competency in speaking at the end of the project
At the end of the project, girls in project schools were able to read 19 additional words per minute, compared to those who were not part of the project
At the end of the project, Grade 5 girls improved their reading comprehension scores by 10% on average, compared to those who were not part of the project


In the rural Wolaita zone of Ethiopia, population growth has placed enormous pressure on land for subsistence farming as well as on social service provision like education. In this area, school children achieve results well below national averages.

At Grade 5, English becomes the main teaching language so it’s crucial learners can comprehend English to access the full curriculum. However, the quality of instruction and the proficiency of teaching in English is poor with insufficient language teacher training and learning resources.

Previous research had found that the children who did well in English performed best in school overall and that good literacy skills were crucial for academic achievement. This demonstrates the key role of literacy and the English language in learning, and the need for innovative interventions in this area in particular.

Aims and objectives

This project was designed to support and develop the Ethiopian government’s priorities, policies and nationally identified gaps affecting the quality of education, with a focus on improving language and literacy teaching as a means to boost overall academic achievement.

How we got there

We undertook a baseline study to get accurate benchmarks of current standards of language teaching and literacy levels in Wolaita schools. This informed the development of the Wolayttatto Language Improvement Framework and ‘language and literacy’ training modules for teachers.

It was vital that school directors and district staff were also trained as they would be responsible for ensuring teachers employed the new teaching methods and resources in their classes, giving support to encourage this where necessary.

Teachers, school directors and government staff were trained in improved literacy teaching using child-centred methods and tips on classroom language in English.

Every school in the project was given a language and literacy resource box including teachers’ guides with assessments and learning plans that emphasise reading. Schools were also encouraged to set up tutorial classes for students in the upper grades with weaker reading levels. School-based support was available throughout the project to increase contact time between supervisors and headteachers