There is More to Writing: The Role of Handwriting in Achieving Academic Success


By Salome Ngugi, Marketing Manager, BIC East Africa

Despite the evolving innovations around the world, and the adoption of fast advancing technologies, handwriting remains an important communication skill that helps develop and improve cognitive ability and motor skills.

The evolution of handwriting throughout civilizations has been significant, from the ancient romans to the monastic era, until it was standardised. Handwriting is the fourth skill, following listening, speaking, and reading, and remains crucial to date.

In Kenya, students are required to take notes by hand, from the 8-4-4 curriculum to the new Competency Based Curriculum (CBC). However, as students progress to middle and senior school, the stress on handwriting reduces.

While good handwriting has tremendous positive effects on students, research done by

Jakhongir Narmamatovich Shaturaev from Tashkent State University of Economics, titled ’The Importance Of Handwriting In Education’, states that handwriting has a received little attention from teachers, policy makers, and researchers into mainstream educational processes in recent years. The research states that handwriting should receive more attention due to the impact it could have on students’ composition abilities and progress.

Similarly, research by Berninger, titled ’Multiple processes that matter in writing instruction’ and assessment’ confirms that the effect of using a pen is stronger than that of using a keyboard amongst children.

According to research conducted in Norway and published in the Journal Frontiers in Psychology, handwriting builds confidence in students. It is also said to retain information and improve thinking skills by necessitating the brain to think first before forming the alphabet strokes and slants. The areas of the brain co-related with working memory and encoding new information are more active during handwriting.

Building off the challenges faced by students when it comes to handwriting, and a study that found that poor handwriting often carries a negative stigma, potentially hindering a child’s growth and development, BIC developed an initiative that helps build students’ confidence through handwriting. The ‘Express Myself with My BIC Pen’ campaign works with schools across Kenya to train teachers on creative handwriting – a skill they can then teach their students.

The program aims to enhance students' handwriting skills and facilitate a smooth transition from graphite pencils to the precision of ballpoint pens as they embark on a new school phase.

Upon completion of their training program, teachers take students through a 26-day course that aims to enhance penmanship, and instil confidence and creativity in students. We have successfully worked with 160 primary schools; trained 480 teachers; and impacted 55,600 students.

Handwriting remains a gateway to academic and personal success. Studies continue to show that putting pen to paper enhances students’ cognitive development, strengthens motor skills, and boosts self-expression. Acquiring handwriting as a skill at an early age is crucial to a human’s development and academic success – impacting accomplishment beyond the academic journey.

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