ALTA Youth Lit in Virtual Motion

i Apr 22nd No Comments by

ALTA Youth Lit Coordinator and
tutor Judith Affoo continues her account of teaching the ALTA literacy
programme to teens and pre-teens. This week Judith describes the impact of
Covid-19 on Youth Lit.

The last intake of Youth Lit students started in October 2019. On the 13th March 2020 classes were suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Initially, we thought this would be for a limited time and at some point, classes would resume. Plans for this were made, but they could not be implemented as schools remained shut.

Towards the end of 2020 we
realized this was not going to be possible. To complete the programme, a
decision was made to offer the Level 2 children virtual classes using Zoom and
to offer the Level 1 students ALTA Online. Nine Level 1 students had personal
computers with internet access and have been working through ALTA Online Book
1, now largely independently. We continue to work to find a way for the other
Level 1 students to gain access to web-enabled computers to improve their
literacy via ALTA Online.

As the start day for the
virtual classes approached, I was excited about seeing the children again. On
the first day, however, it was apparent that these were not the same children.
They were lethargic and apathetic and a shadow of their former selves. Many
were home alone all day unsupervised as their parents were working.

Despite the fact that they said
they had been doing online school, they had regressed with their reading
ability. I realized that this was going to be a challenge and that I had to
find some way to engage them. The first task was to get them to keep their cameras
on as they were accustomed to doing school classes with their cameras off.

The next step was to get them
involved in doing something. We started with reviewing spelling words by using
the chat feature. I would call a word and they would type the word in the chat
to the whole group. This proved a success and something they enjoyed while
learning the spelling at the same time.

Reading was done in pairs using
the breakout room feature. The students enjoyed working with a partner to
decode words and later on I introduced challenges and puzzles for them to
solve. I also gave them the opportunity to share their screen with the class to
show something they had written. It was heartening to see some of the children
become excited about the classes with many saying they were sorry for the
classes to end.

Looking forward, I hope for the
children’s sake that we get them back to in-person school soon. I see an even
greater need for the Youth Lit Programme as many would have been left even
further behind unable to cope with the virtual schoolwork.

On behalf of ALTA and the
students of Youth Lit, I would like to thank NALIS and the Bermudez Biscuit
Company for making this programme possible. Together we can ensure that many
more children will receive the help they need for many years to come.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a tutor, joining a class, or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email

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