My name is Ester Mwaba – a proud Zambian girl!

The following post followed a workshop on the Escuela Nueva model in Zambia.


My name is Ester Mwaba – a proud Zambian girl


Literacy and Book Making

The challenges for learning  in Muchinga province, Zambia are great!

If we take literacy, for example, many students cannot read some sentences in English at grade 7 , yet they have to take their primary leaving exam in English (at grade 7).

Although new Zambian government policy ensures that students can learn in their local language (Bemba, here in Muchinga) until grade 4, they still have to continue learning in a second language, English, even though some of their teachers may not be competent in English. Many homes do not have electricity, so do not have TV where they could at least be exposed to some English language programmes.

During the recent Escuela Nueva workshops  teachers were encouraged to make simple books for their ‘classroom library’  – just two weeks later and Ester was one of the students who caught the book making bug from her teacher. Let’s consider some of the steps they took to get this far.

Teachers were creative, once some simple examples were presented in the workshop ‘class library’:


One teacher was particularly creative in producing an ‘active’ book for use by pairs of students:


This book helps children to practice new words – one child will ask a question -“What is this?” the other child may answer “basket’ – who tries to write the word – they can then pull out the answer and check the spelling. It seems simple, but when you have over 100 children in a class, any activities which are more child centred are very welcome.

classLib2                                                bookmaking2

Following a few days of making some books – the three workshop ‘classes’ presented examples of their work in an ‘exhibition’.


The Book Exhibition

Some examples of other books made by participants:

book HIV

A book about the dangers of HIV/AIDS –  a disease that is well known in most villages -resulting in many orphans.


A book about “My School”



Making a science book.


Making the ‘My village’ book


Presenting the results of book making


wordlist forest concept2

Students often come to a paragraph or short story with little knowledge of the key words  – they often get stuck, while reading a sentence by an unknown word.

Thus they rarely gain fluency in reading and therefore find the sentence ‘meaningless’.

This book listed new words and then developed the meaning of these key words through drawings and explanations.

At the end of the book is the story – now students can read fluently as they already know all the main words and their meanings.



Activity books were particularly popular as they can be used with pairs and small groups without the intervention of the teacher -therefore they are ‘self directed’ books.


activitybook3house questionbook

Teachers had many ideas about making activity books which could be used by students working in pairs or threes.

A simple flap , once opened can reveal answers to questions that students will ask their group members.

copperativegroupbook treeactivity2 activitybooktree




Pop up books added variation and interest in book making:


popup3 popupcomm


When the stapler got stuck – we looked round for alternative bindings -anything from small sticks, to palm leaves and some even took up sewing!

palmbind2 palmforbinding


protectenv2cover st palmbind


protecttheenvironment  Another proud book maker


envcoverNew A4envbook A4env3

A ‘one sheet’ book – it folds out when you open it


A fold -out book about colours:

colour book



Small is beautiful……


A small book about George the tadpole…….

george1tadpole george2 george3 george4


Following the workshops, teachers immediately got to work -preparing some books to inspire the students..and helping students to make their own books.

This part of the teachers’ workshop showed immediate outcomes -just one week later…..


This is Boston -he tore the corner from his exercise book and created his own dictionary of English words!

Groups worked cooperatively -some planning, some thinking, some writing , some drawing – then putting together their own book.

Pictured below -proud book makers!

bookmakingschool bookpride bookpride2 bookmakers5 bookmakers6 bookmake7


Proudly reading her book to the rest of the class.


And in another school:

From no books …….to our own books and our own library, in just one week!


DSCN7969 DSCN7971 DSCN7974

Grandfather loves to dance…..



and this is the teacher who inspired and encouraged them…


and more activity books….

workbook3 workbook2 workbook1


A seed identification book.


In April there will be a second workshop in Muchinga Province -we look forward to hearing how well the teachers and students have been doing during these last few months.


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