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Each year, September 8th marks UNESCO’s International Literacy day, raising awareness globally on the issues surrounding adult
and child literacy.
At Culford, pupils, parents and family
members work together to encourage our pupils to read, so that their love of reading and learning never stops. We are also blessed, of course, to have easy access to information technology, with every pupil from the age of seven having their own laptop. Our focus on blended learning, which sees pupils take responsibility for their own academic progress from an early age, encourages both literacy and the habits of self- discipline that underlie it.
However, more widely, although much progress has been made in improving literacy rates in the more than 50 years since the first International Literacy Day, it remains a global problem. There are thought to be more than 750 million adults around the world who cannot read. As part of its commitment to making pupils aware of global issues, Culford is also, therefore, committed to improving literacy in one of the poorest developing countries in the world, Malawi.
Every July since 2009, a group of Lower Sixth pupils and teachers have travelled to Malawi for three weeks to carry out voluntary work in ‘the warm heart of Africa’. One of their top goals was to assist literacy among primary children and it is no surprise that they forged a connection with the Charchar Trust, a charity which puts book learning at the heart of all their work in Malawi.
One of the projects our team has been working on is the completion of a library at Nankhufi School, which began in 2018 and was completed by the Culford pupils in 2019 as they helped builders with the final painting and the concreting of the floor.
In 2009 the school barely existed, consisting of just two shacks and a handful of pupils. Now the school is a sizeable community boasting five classroom blocks, toilets, a porridge kitchen, a local market store and, thanks to the Culford pupils, a library. It forms the hub of not just the school, but the community at large. It is currently well stocked with culturally in-tune reading
materials in English and the local language Chichewa, and the Nankhufi pupils’ appetite for reading has never been so strong.
Wiktor Chichlowski, who monitors literacy levels at the school from the local Fisherman’s Rest outreach base which welcomes our pupils every year, was
thrilled to announce on his most recent trip in 2019 that the exam results from the school, which enable pupils to pass with confidence to secondary level, were 60% higher than the pre-library averages.
Culford pupils celebrated their 10 year connection with the school in 2019 and are proud to have seen rising rates of literacy bring progress to otherwise disadvantaged children. The lasting relationship between Culford and the Lower Shire Valley in Malawi is also a treasured one for us and we are very much looking forward to resuming our connection in 2021.
    Culford, literacy
and a global bond
  by Culford School headmaster Julian Johnson- Munday
“This library now forms the hub of not just the school but the community at large.”

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