Context: The 2011 Literacy Report found that more than half of the children in primary schools in the Belize District did not have the basic literacy skills appropriate for their age-grade levels.
Numerous studies point to a link between literacy, employment and poverty - a link evident in Belize as, many times, youths and adults who are most in need of social services and job opportunities are unable to read and write in English and find it difficult to express themselves. This makes it challenging for targeted individuals and communities to be integrated into the formal economy, perpetuating the poverty cycle, reinforcing social exclusion and contributing to increased violence in marginalized communities.
Goal: In response to the aforementioned report, the Computer Assisted Learning Programme aims to build basic literacy skills which are necessary to achieve academic success and entry into existing economic skills training, entrepreneurship, and job placement programme.
This programme uses a life-cycle approach to improve the literacy skills of children and their families. It targets three groups: primary school children who are not performing at the expected levels for their respective ages (6-12); teenagers who are challenged to perform because of low literacy or who have dropped out of school with low literacy skills; and adults 20 years or older with low literacy levels.
CALS: Computer Aided Learning Software
The software is a tool to help students master a series of fundamental skills to improve their reading and math capabilities. Students are pre-tested before being placed into a grade level. The software then creates an individualized programme for each student, designed to help them realize fast, permanent gains in core reading and mathematical skills. It is not intended to replace traditional classroom instruction but rather is used as a remedial tool to complement ongoing training. The literacy software in particular, assists reading-delayed learners, at-risk readers, and young learners who need to develop and improve reading acquisition skills.
The CALS Programme:
The CALS programme was first introduced to Belize in collaboration with the Literacy Unit of MOEYS and the Literacy Without Borders initiative based in Alberta, Canada with generous funding from the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the UNICEF Fund. RESTORE Belize partners with schools and community centers in socially vulnerable neighborhoods and low levels of literacy, overseeing the initial set up and facilitating the training of coaches as well as offering technical support before finally monitoring results.
Sites: CALS has been installed in 20 sites across the country, and RESTORE Belize currently provides support to 14 of them. The full list is available below:
If you would like your school or community center to join the literacy and numeracy programme, contact us for more information.