Tusome – Let us read!

This project is funded by

Why We Do It

The increased access and enrolment to primary schools in Kenya due to free access has brought with it many challenges, which have had a negative impact on learning outcomes. Literacy rates in primary schools are significantly lower than expected. The high number of children enrolled in school does not match with learning quality.

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National data indicate that only three out of ten grade 3 pupils can do grade 2 work and eight out of 100 pupils in grade 8 cannot do grade 2 work. Literacy and numeracy skills of most pupils remain low throughout primary school. In Kilifi County, only 52 percent of residents have a primary school level education with 13 percent having secondary education.

In Kilifi, education in the past has not been part of the things highly valued and due to high adult illiteracy levels; children lack proper role models and adequate support and monitoring to help them thrive in their academics. Most children entirely rely on teacher supervision and guidance and in many cases; this alone is not enough.

Children find a supportive literacy enriched environment at school which is virtually non-existence in their homes despite the fact that they spend more time at home than in school. This means that there is great need for the home and parents, irrespective of their literacy levels, to be empowered and conscious of their children’s literacy needs since literacy skills are a key prerequisite to attaining knowledge and better educational outcomes.

How We Do It

The literacy support project “Tusome” (“Let Us Read”) project had the objectives to improve passion for reading, fluency and comprehension among grade 1 to 3 pupils in public primary schools and to sensitise parents on the importance of having a reading friendly environment at home. The one and a half year project ended in 2019.

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Creating engaged readers requires a partnership approach from schools, families and the community at large. Aside from the sheer joy of exercising the imagination, research shows reading for pleasure improves literacy, and learning outcomes.

Interventions of the project were not limited to:

  • Conducted reading exhibitions in the target schools which is designed to bring together reading clubs members, parents, community members and other Tusome project stakeholders.
  • Held 157 parent-child reading days in the target schools where children read under the supervision of their caregivers. In total 1,243 parents were attending
  • Advocacy outreach sessions for parents using theatre performances to advocate on the need to support reading and thematic talks on the the importance of nurturing and supporting reading culture among children.
  • Formed 45 reading clubs, designed to expose children to experiences that foster their confidence, vocabulary, reading fluency, reading comprehension, imagination while broadening their view of the world and most importantly to relax and have fun while reading.
  • Held book club sessions once a week in each target school.
  • 4,992 supplementary readers and 20 storage boxes were procured and distributed.


Our Impacts

We reached out to 4,785 children, 1,243 parents and 49 teachers from 20 project schools through the project’s interventions in phase 1 and 2.

Parents reported to have gained knowledge on how to enhance children literacy development. Those who doubted their importance in playing this role due to low literacy levels gained confidence and understood how to support their children.

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Parents expressed their enthusiasm and willingness to participate in future reading engagements like the parent child reading day. They requested teachers to utilize academic days as a lot of time is wasted as parents stand in line waiting for their turn. The idea was strongly supported by teachers.

Searching for an avenue to reach out to more children, later the idea of holding community reading sessions was born. On World Literacy Day 2018, about 500 children came to Kilifi library to read, participate in spelling competitions, do word puzzles and practice story re-telling. Adults joined and volunteered.

Reading promotion gave us a chance to raise the profile of reading in the schools we have been working with. It also allowed us to share our passion for high-interest titles, favorite authors, and the joy of establishing a solid reading culture in life.


What Teachers Say

“The Tusome project has helped bring parents back to school. With the sensitisation sessions they now better understand the crucial role they play in their children’s learning” Deputy head teacher at Bahari Primary.

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“Our pupils have greatly enjoyed and benefited from the activities. A reading culture has been cultivated. For the first time, parents did not complain when invited to school meetings. They really appreciate being involved” Teacher, Mkombe Primary.

“The Tusome project has helped bring parents back to school. With the sensitisation sessions, they now understand the crucial role they play in their children’s learning.” Deputy head teacher at Bahari Primary.

“It is shocking how three facilitators managed the clubs. Teachers were afraid that they would not significantly manage improving each child’s literacy needs. Using various stimulating approaches in the reading clubs fostered children span to participate in the activities.” Teacher, Fumbini Primary.