Teacher Training & Support

Training teachers to be effective

In many parts of the developing world, insufficient teacher training, lack of instructional materials and a focus on memorization over comprehension often result in low literacy skills. Early grade textbooks and government curricula frequently place unrealistic expectations on young readers, with long, difficult texts and inappropriate sequencing of information.

Room to Read’s Literacy Program partners with Ministries of Education to supplement gaps that exist in the standard reading and writing curriculum—providing resources, in-service teacher training and classroom enhancements. In each country, our local team identifies areas where the current early grade literacy curriculum and teacher training fall short, and then works with a team of education experts to develop a program that addresses those issues.

Targeting critical milestones in learning

Room to Read’s Literacy Program concentrates literacy learning during 1st and 2nd grades because we know that once a child reaches 3rd grade without basic literacy skills, it is virtually impossible to catch up. We focus on helping first and second grade children “crack the code”, meaning that they can read and write familiar words and basic sentences with full comprehension, and express themselves clearly. Those skills provide the foundation for success as they continue in school.

A comprehensive approach to literacy acquisition

Our Literacy Program focuses on five main areas: phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. We encourage teachers to incorporate all five elements into every lesson and to perform continuous informal assessments to track student progress.

Based on international best practices, our trainings provides teacher in-service workshops with a focus on conceptual and classroom issues and child-centered, interactive teaching methods that support the acquisition of reading and writing skills.

That training is coupled with one-on-one support in the classroom which is conducted on a regular basis throughout the year by our literacy facilitators. Facilitators help each teacher practice the new teaching methods, providing guidance and feedback throughout the year.

Filling the gaps with material development

Without the proper materials, teaching early literacy skills is extremely challenging, but in developing countries that is the case more often than not. We work to identify holes in the government curriculum and then create materials to supplement the standard textbook. This may include letter cards for phonics practice, word cards to help with print recognition, pre-writing exercises to develop motor skills and workbooks to guide remediation exercises.

We share our materials and best practices with the governments we work with as well as other NGOs. Our hope is to improve reading instruction in a way that can be incorporated into the government curriculum and scaled to entire regions of the world -offering the potential to lift millions out of poverty.

Quality Reading Materials

Making phonics fun

In addition to providing teachers with supplementary materials, we encourage them to create their own tools that bring literacy lessons to life. These materials create a print-rich environment that reinforces the curriculum. Ms. Chanda, a teacher at Nakatete Basic School in Zambia, combines the materials with instructional songs that keep the young readers in her class engaged and excited to learn.

Visit Ms. Chanda’s Classroom »

Collaborating with governments and communities

At the government level, we advocate for more instruction time in public schools devoted to the acquisition of literacy skills and more training for teachers. Our local team combines cutting-edge research from around the globe with their knowledge of the unique challenges facing each individual community to devise a customized instruction program that suits the local context.


We also join with the communities we work in through events and workshops, to be sure that they understand the value of building children’s literacy skills. Support from parents to practice reading at home can greatly affect a child’s acquisition of reading and writing skills, so we encourage each of our local teams to conduct community awareness in the way they think will be most effective.

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