(PRWEB) May 28, 2009
The THRASS British phonics pilot in Nigeria has been running for just four months but it has already proved so popular that it has become a victim of its own success, with the children in what should have been the control groups insisting on joining the children in the THRASS experimental classes.
Since January, THRASS UK has been funding a pilot literacy project in a number of city and rural schools in Oyo State, Nigeria. The seven schools selected for the pilot project are from regions located throughout the Oyo State, including Saki, Iseyin, Oko, Oyo, Eruwa and, the state capital, Ibadan. The project is approved by the Ministry of Education and the State Universal Basic Education Board, and is being supervised by Dr Nkechi Christopher and other lecturers from the University of Ibadan and Ladoke University of Technology.
The THRASS (Teaching Handwriting Reading And Spelling Skills) synthetic phonics programme helps learners to develop sound literacy skills from an early age by teaching them about the 44 phonemes (speech sounds) of spoken English and the 120 graphemes (spelling choices) of written English. It has been heralded as a revolutionary approach to teaching English that provides learners not just with handwriting, reading and spelling skills but also with valuable life skills training, and wherever it is used it surpasses all expectations.
THRASS is being introduced into the schools using the innovative SING-A-LONG resources that include the most fantastic interactive software and are considered to be the best way of introducing THRASS. The resources use 44 songs that teachers and parents can sing with children to explain the 44 sounds and 120 main spelling choices of English, and the songs have really memorable tunes in different musical styles and dance rhythms from around the world, and wonderful imaginative titles such as “The moon fell out of the sky”, “A great big gorilla” and “You don’t get pandas in Africa”. They are real fun, give everyone a lift and really motivate children to learn.
Alan Davies, British Educational Psychologist and Executive Director of THRASS UK, who has pioneered the development of the THRASS programme, has just returned from a visit to Nigeria to see what progress the schools taking part in the pilot have made and to hold a further workshop for teachers from those schools. But there is a slight problem with the pilot, as Alan Davies explained: “The children in the experimental group classes that have the SING-A-LONG resources love the songs so much that they are teaching them to the children in classes that do not have the resources. In some schools, the head teachers have even been forced by parents to combine the classes, with over 70 children in some THRASS classes, because they don’t want their children to miss out! So we now have a slight problem, in that there are no conventional control groups in the pilot – though we do have scores for the Primary One children for last year.”
And it’s not just the children and parents who are so enthusiastic, the teachers are too and they have great confidence in THRASS, which they feel empowers them. “I love this THRASS and want the Government to take it up because it is giving the children the opportunity to learn fast and understand things around them and to be fluent in expressing themselves and to be able to pronounce and read English.” “The Government should support this programme because the standard of pupils will be improved in oral and written English.” “It is a very stimulating and worthwhile programme that paves the way for the teaching and learning of English in an easy way. I am very happy to have been one of the delegates chosen.” And these were only some of the comments received from those attending the workshop.
It is an indication of the significance of THRASS that in South Africa it is being sponsored by Absa Bank, a member of the Barclays Group, through the THRASS Absa TalkTogether Project, a unique educational partnership that is aiming to revolutionise the teaching and learning of language through partnerships between primary schools, universities and other organisations. To date, over 5,000 teachers and student teachers have earned the THRASS Accredited Certificate, which is already a compulsory module for Foundation Phase student teachers at six universities.
Even though there are now no conventional control groups in the THRASS pilot, there is no doubt that THRASS and SING-A-LONG are proving highly popular and effective, and already the results are really amazing. Oyo State will therefore be extending the pilot programme to 50 more schools, with 200 teachers being trained in July, and wishes to implement THRASS SING-A-LONG state-wide.
Notes to Editors
The THRASS extensive picture-based training website for schools and parents is at http://www.thrass.co.uk/teaching.htm
For a video of children in the Nigeria pilot using SING-A-LONG and other THRASS resources, and for comments from the teachers involved, visit http://www.thrass.co.uk/nigeriapart2.htm
For a video of State coverage of teachers attending the first THRASS training course in January 2009 (and interviews with the Commissioner for Education, Oyo State, the Chairman, State Universal Basic Education Board, and Dr Nkechi Christopher, University of Ibadan), visit http://www.thrass.co.uk/nigeria0109.htm
For other videos that demonstrate what can be achieved using SING-A-LONG and THRASS resources, view the videostreams on http://www.thrass.co.uk/holyrosary_limpopo.htm (South Africa), http://www.thrass.co.uk/wps08.htm (UK) and http://www.thrass.co.uk/zimbabwe0309.htm (Zimbabwe).
For information about THRASS SING-A-LONG, including a demonstration of the interactive book, visit http://www.thrass.co.uk/sing-a-long.htm
For information about the THRASS Absa TalkTogether Project, visit http://www.talktogether.co.za and http://www.thrass.co.uk/absa_index.htm
Issued by: THRASS UK News Media Centre http://www.thrass.co.uk/nm.htm
Mike Meade, Media Director, +44 1829 741413 Mob: +44 7970 151 738
Chris Griffiths, International Development, +30 266 203 1723