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Starfish Malawi - Christmas Appeal 2017: Equipping children to read and write

Did you know that currently 1 in 4 of Malawi's young adults cannot read and write in any language?

As literacy is a “ladder out of poverty” (Morgan Freeman, backed by vast evidence!) we want to give children the best possible start in learning to read and write.

However, this is no easy task – especially as they have two languages to master….

Although most families in Malawi speak Chichewa or other indigenous languages as their first language, the law requires that all children learn English throughout school and that other subjects are delivered in English from juniors upwards.

A good grasp of English is required in Malawi for people to access information (there is a shortage of Internet content, newspapers etc. written in Chichewa), higher education, tertiary employment and global commerce. It has therefore become key in economic development.

Starfish Malawi have launched a project designed by a teacher and international development graduate from the UK, Rachel Ormrod, to enhance the Malawian teacher’s own English fluency and their understanding of effective and relevant teaching strategies for literacy in any language, as we want to preserve the mother tongue too. This is being done through the development of a network of teachers who are taking on the role of Literacy Leaders for their schools

Literacy instruction in Malawi is often ‘dry’ but we know that children learn best when teaching is lively, interactive and multi-sensory. The Literacy Leaders have therefore designed a unique bi-lingual alphabet sheet to support children in this first step towards learning to read and write. For each letter there is a picture of something which either begins with or produces that sound in both English and Chichewa, to avoid confusion. It is laminated, so is long-lasting. They have also created actions and a song to go with the sheet, which will be introduced across infant classes and local nurseries.

Would you be able to help us ensure as many children as possible, benefit from this first reading and writing tool, by donating to our Christmas Appeal?

Just £2 will provide laminated bi-lingual alphabet sheets for 40 children!

£5 will provide sheets for 80 children and a large (A1) copy for whole class teaching.

Please visit our designated Just Giving page;

For more information about all our projects, please visit our website at:

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