Jolly Phonics: UK Firm Launches NEED to Boost Homeschooling

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Universal Learning Solutions, a UK not-for-profit organisation has unveiled the Nigerians Educate Everywhere at a Distance (NEED) initiative, designed to support the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) in developing programmes that would ensure that children learn at home while schools are closed.

Universal Learning Solutions and UBEC deliver Africa’s largest and most effective English literacy programme in Nigeria, named the Jolly Phonics.
The Country Director of the organisation, Mr. Patrick Uzu said the jolly phonics usually focuses on providing face-to-face training and support to public primary school teachers using this fun and effective English literacy method, which has been proven to dramatically raise early grade literacy levels in Nigeria and globally.

He said his organisation has changed its approach due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has created a range of amazing free distance learning solutions that can be accessed in a variety of ways.

“As soon as school closure was announced, Universal Learning Solutions produced a 50 episode Jolly Phonics TV lessons series to directly benefit Nigerian children; Nigerian Jolly Phonics trainers recorded a 42 part radio show for the north and south of the country and a free Jolly Phonics app and Africa-based story reading apps have been made available on a dedicated website – www.jollphonics.ng; where all the audio, video and app contents can be accessed.”

There are also a range of free worksheets and activities to keep children occupied in the home, as Uzu said for families with no electricity, the organisation will be sending SMS messages to as many parents as possible including a full Jolly Phonics lessons course, developed in bite-sized chunks for parents.

“Already State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) in Zamfara, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Abia, Anambra, Jigawa, Niger, Lagos, Benue, Adamawa, Kebbi, Yobe, Ebonyi Nasarawa and Ekiti States are embracing the project through airing the radio show or television lesson on a range of stations.”

The Kaduna SUBEB Chairman, Abdullahi Sani, highlighted the benefits of Jolly Phonics in his introduction to the radio broadcast, saying, “Jolly Phonics is a fun and multisensory programme for teaching young learners how to read and write with confidence. It is packed with activities that children love. They feel like they are playing, yet they are learning. As it helps to read words in English, it also helps them learn how to read Hausa words.”

The CEO of Universal Learning Solutions, Mr. Gary Foxcroft said: “The NEED project has been developed quickly as part of our response to the COVID-19 crisis. We wish to implore all state government and wider development partners to work with us to promote this Jolly Phonics distance learning programme and enable children to access the right to literacy from home.
He thanked UBEC presiding over the initiative for making it possible, adding that all resources are available for free on the website – www.jollyphonics.ng.