Through the generous support of the Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD), Astronomy for Literacy (AFL) is working to enhance literacy, numeracy and other foundational skills among struggling junior secondary school students in Sierra Leone.
The AFL project has developed detailed, highly structured lesson plans that enable relatively low-skilled teachers with limited subject knowledge to still deliver high quality learning opportunities. To date, AFL has developed and taught a science unit on the universe that teaches students about the structure of the universe, our sun and moon, and our planet. A unit test has also been developed to assess student understanding of these concepts. AFL has also developed and taught a social studies unit on “Views of the Universe”, which teaches students about early understandings of the universe across different cultures, scientific understanding of the universe and the development of certain key technologies. Our maths unit and literacy lessons are currently being developed, and will be ready for the coming academic year.
Alongside this, AFL has invested in finding appropriate supplementary digital resources, including videos, presentations and other offline content, and has purchased 20 low-cost tablet devices that will allow groups of students to access this content.
AFL’s lesson plans and supporting resources will soon be reaching close to 1500 struggling junior secondary students when the new academic year starts this September. Early results from our external evaluation indicate that our students are improving in their reading and math skills, and that that they are improving more than students in other schools nearby. It is still early days but AFL is excited by the potential impact of the lessons being developed through this funding provided by the OAD, and the added value of encouraging students’ interest in reading and numeracy through more engaging, astronomy-focused curriculum.