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The Reading Adventure


Literacy is defined as the ability of a person (child or adult) to read, write, understand and apply the knowledge to the benefit of the person and or the society at large.

__My earliest experience in primary school was of children that struggled with literacy. Some of us could not read until we were in primary five while others, up until they finished primary and secondary schools, they could not read and write well. This challenge is persisting till date in our primary and even secondary schools. It is estimated that in some parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, over 80-95% of primary school children can’t read even one simple word in a storybook. The consequences of not laying this important foundation of literacy will affect the development of our entire education system and the society at large. Unfortunately, despite the fact that many African children have access to primary school education; the quality of education that emphasizes literacy in the early grades is still far-fetch. One of the greatest challenges that I have seen in the few years that I have been teaching is the fact that many schools want to teach children how to read, but don't have the skills and the ability. Despite the great importance that is attached to early grades literacy, I am disturbed that there is no agreed approach and effort towards teaching literacy in our primary school systems, unlike the developed countries. There is no any sense of direction in the rudiment and pedagogies of teaching and writing in our schools. These, of course, have significantly contributed to the fact that many young African children of over 80-95% finish primary schools with poor literacy skills. The above challenges among many others spark my desire to embark on a research, to be a voice for the African child. To me, the ability to read and write is a fundamental human right of every young child. However, the major challenge is funding as many schools are in rural areas where parents cannot afford to buy their children’s workbooks and readers.

A Brief History of TPRA By Marlene E. Wiebe

Name of TPRA
Why the name - The Phonics READING Adventure? Our motto states Hosea’s dream: `Rebuilding a Culture of Reading’. Therefore READING is capitalized. To accomplish this, we have chosen to use phonics as the main teaching tool and have sought to draw the children into the world of adventure – the world of reading and learning skills through the use of fun and challenging manipulatives and written materials.


To rebuild a culture of reading in Nigeria and Africa at large.


Planning and Preparation of TPRA

Marlene and her husband, Rudy, began the privilege they have had to date to come alongside and enhance education in Nigeria. As Marlene conducted reading and Bible clubs for young children in 2005 to 2011, her heart was stirred by their challenge in English literacy.

In God’s providence, a workshop on Christian Education brought Hosea and Marlene to meet in Jos. Their shared concern for literacy and their kindred spirit brought them together regularly. During this time they were introduced to an American home-schooling systematic phonics curriculum which got them very excited. They purposed to enlarge their understanding of phonics and other aspects of literacy.

Hosea’s mental wheels began to turn and he declared to Marlene that they should team up to write a culturally appropriate phonics curriculum to improve both the teaching skills of teachers through explicit lesson plans and, as a result, the literacy skills for beginning readers. And so Marlene began to write sample lessons while Hosea as a headmaster and teacher began to field test phonics skills with both teachers and children starting with the 2012-2013 academic year..

Publishing of TPRA

marlene,hosea, adriene

Marlene and Rudy arrived back in Nigeria in March to meet with Hosea’s urgent request that we begin writing a phonics curriculum. He felt so keenly the need for the material as soon as possible! And so for the next five months we worked non-stop together with another colleague, Adrienne Lillo, who advised us throughout and also began to write stories to give the children practice and pleasure in reading.

God graciously enabled us by early August to publish the following:

  • • An Introduction to The Phonics READING Adventure
  • • Adventure 1 to 5 Teachers’ Manuals and pupil Workbooks
  • • 40 Adventure Companion Readers.
The books were published by ACTS (Africa Christian TextbookS) and were ready for use in September. Helpful teaching tools were also produced: a pocket chart, a magic bag, patterns for large drill charts, a CD of letter sounds and two DVDs on teaching the drill charts. And so Hosea began to introduce TPRA by word of mouth and at workshops. Five schools adopted TPRA and became part of the pilot project to field test the curriculum.

Due to Rudy’s health challenges, the Wiebes made only a three week visit to Nigeria in 2015 and sadly have not been able to return. However, through computer and Skype, God has graciously enabled them to continue working for the cause of literacy from their home in Toronto, Canada. Hosea diligently, tirelessly and ably has continued to promote TPRA, to give numerous workshops and to add to the number of schools using the curriculum. Hosea has passed on feedback from schools using TPRA to Marlene who then worked hard to improve the teacher and pupils manuals that were written in 2014.

Adrienne Lillo and Marlene enjoyed preparing more companion readers and Adrienne beautifully illustrated them all. Marlene was delighted to have completed the written work on TPRA just before her 70th birthday!
In preparation for the new school year beginning in September 2016, ACTS published:
  • • 8 series of Drill Charts (teaching aids) to cover Adventure 1 – 7.
  • • Second Edition of An Introduction to The Phonics READING Adventure.
  • • Adventure 6 and 7 Teachers’ Manuals and pupil Workbooks.
  • In preparation for the new school year beginning in September 2017, ACTS published:
  • • Additional Adventure Companion Readers – now 48 in total.
  • • Second Edition of Adventure 1 to 5 Teachers’ Manuals and pupil Workbooks.
  • • A poster advertising The Phonics READING Adventure curriculum.

We are encouraged that almost 50 schools have adopted TPRA. Regular texting and Skyping with Hosea keep us happily connected. Pray for Hosea as he so carefully and prayerfully fulfils his roles on the ground on behalf of TPRA while we are in the background coaching and praying!
Heartfelt thanks to the special people and organizations who contributed to the preparation and printing of TPRA to make Hosea’s dream come to fruition.
Praise be to God! May he receive the glory!

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