• We all have the right to write. Anything we can say, we can write.
  • We all can write well if we are emotionally involved in our topic and our purpose. We find our voices there. Writing is learning and discovering. It develops best in real-life situations, with the instructor intervening in the writing process.
  • We learn to read by having written. We learn from our experiences, including experiences with oral and written texts. We should expose ourselves to many texts, and often do free-choice reading.
  • We learn best in collaborative, diverse, and supportive communities. We all learn in our own ways, and our home cultures affect how we interpret our experiences.
  • Moving through the writing process can produce powerful writing. We gain more ownership over our writing if we master the writing process.
  • Writing is a strong tool for developing critical thinking. Challenging our thinking as we write in collaborative settings, develops academic language proficiency.
  • We teach equitably:  not less, but more to the poor. We recognize our children's home communities and ancestral cultures as our educational partners.
SELI Proposals
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A Proposal

Let us use Literacy Credits to finance Literacy Projects

What is a literacy credit?

A literacy credit is a value assigned to a reduction or offset of writing and reading illiteracy, in any language. We see literacy credits as potentially key components of both national and international attempts to reduce the current world illiteracy and stop its growth. If we define illiterate people as teens or adults who are pre-, non-, or semi-literate, one literacy credit might be equal to twenty illiterate people's publishing a 250-word original piece of writing each, in two ways: a) by posting the written work in a public place and b) reading it aloud to others. Illiteracy mitigation projects would generate literacy credits, so literacy credits can be used to finance illiteracy reduction schemes around the world.

Why would this system be a good idea?

A great deal of money is being spent in schools in first-world countries to remediate illiteracy among domestic and foreign-born teens and adults. The fact that public taxes are used to teach teen and adult literacy shows that first-world individuals acknowledge their responsibility to ensure literacy for all. However, some first-world individuals have smaller illiteracy footprints , or responsibility, than others because they participate more in alleviating illiteracy, anywhere in the world.

Since many foreign nationals leave their native countries specifically seeking the literacy skills that will make them employable, better-financed literacy projects around the world would enable people to have this human right met where they are. Companies could sell literacy credits to organizations or individuals who are interested in reducing the size of their illiteracy footprint on a voluntary basis. These literacy off-setters would purchase the credits from an investment fund or a literacy development organization that has aggregated the credits from individual projects. The quality of the credits would be based in part on the validation of the process and of the fund or development organization that acted as the sponsor to the literacy project. Literacy credits could be used to reduce one's income taxes, and so on.

(Modified from Wikipedia's article on Carbon Credits)

© 2010 Jacqueline Leigh



A Proposal

A Provincial School Library Clearinghouse System

for Sierra Leone

The Problem

A reading culture, or habit, is not being nurtured among school children in Sierra Leone.

Trade books are not available to buy, and most school libraries in the country are only minimally functional. They lack the most basic supplies, equipment, space, staff and management skills that a school library needs to operate.

Many schools do not have library collections at all. The collections in schools that do have libraries consist largely of textbooks and reference books weeded out of school libraries abroad. It is rare to find an age-appropriate, attractive fiction, nonfiction, or folklore book on a library shelf in any school here. All schools would certainly welcome donations of such books, but would still not have the means to develop truly functional school libraries.

The Idea

A system of four provincial school library clearinghouses, or PSLCs, located in each provincial headquarters, could

  • provide member schools in that province with access to collections,
  • help develop the schools' libraries, and
  • increase the amount of reading done in the province's schools.

School membership to each PSLC would be by subscription. The purpose of subscribing would be to establish a common understanding of the PSLC mission and of the civic responsibility involved in library participation. Authorized teachers/librarians from subscribing schools would have access to its services, which would include

  1. borrowing any item in the PSLC's database for the school's use, such as to add to their school library collection for a month, or to fill teachers' requests for teacher resources.
  2. receiving a PSLC newsletter celebrating the participation and various book activities of member schools, and publishing students' reviews of books they borrowed.
  3. attending classes and workshops on such topics as
  • school library management
  • the impact of free voluntary reading on the development of literacy
  • grantwriting for school libraries
  • lesson plans for library classes
  • storytelling, booktalking, role playing and other ways of sharing books aloud
  • ideas for promoting reading in their schools
  • ways school libraries can support instruction in their schools
  • information technology

Each PSLC's database could include not only its own collection, but the collections of all the subscribing schools as well. Schools' own collections would be maintained in their schools, but through the PSLC, any member school could borrow a book from any other member school. There would be a penalty imposed on any school not returning items by the due date, such as suspension of that school's membership for a specified period.

Each of the four PSLCs would be staffed by personnel with school librarianship training and experience working in schools with successful, vibrant libraries. Its facility would house the provincial collection, a work station area, a newsletter publishing area, and room for conducting workshops.

The PSLCs would actively advocate for mobile phone and internet access for each of their rural member schools to ensure their equitable access to the PSLC's information sources, collections and instructional services.

The Big Picture

Sierra Leone is not unique in West Africa in its inability to provide the reading material school children need to fully develop their literacy. The successful Provincial School Library Clearinghouse system would offer a replicable model to the region.

© 2010 Jacqueline Leigh




Last Updated on Saturday, 10 September 2011 12:32
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