Jody Unterrheiner’s program, ‘Fun of Phonics,’ isn’t just changing one life, it’s transforming the lives of thousands throughout the Gulu region in Northern Uganda.
After quitting her job as a journalist to retrain as a primary school teacher, Jody has made it her mission to make learning more accessible for children and teachers struggling with crowded classrooms (you can often find over 100 children in one room), inadequate educational resources, and limited teacher training.
The Fun of Phonics – an phonics initiative culturally tailored to Ugandan classrooms and learning styles – uses visuals, phonics ‘actions’, and songs to help students learn to read. Jody delivers the program by travelling to primary schools within the region and providing 3-day workshops for teachers so that they can introduce the program into their own school curriculum.
Although Uganda has offered free access to primary school education since the late 1990’s, there simply have not been enough teachers and resources to keep students engaged, motivated, and learning. The Fun of Phonics has already proven to be a fun and cost-effective solution to many of these challenges.
“After teaching a three-day workshop at one local school, the head teacher sat down with me and said, ‘You know, I thought reading came down from heaven, I thought it was something that children just got one day. I didn’t realise we could teach children how to read.’ ”