Frequent Questions - Programs & Countries
How do we form a partnership with your organization?
Partner organizations are an important strategic aspect of Room to Read’s business model. We work in collaboration with local NGOs in order to build upon the strengths of existing work and ensure long-term sustainability. At this time, our in-country teams are focused primarily on strengthening relationships with current partners, but if your organization would like to collaborate with us in one of the ten countries where Room to Read currently operates, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. To see a list of current partners by country, visit our Where we work map.
Where can I learn more about how you run your programs?
You can find extensive information about our programs on our website, including videos and relevant case studies from our blog. Information about our Research, Monitoring and Evaluation is also available.
Can I sponsor a particular girl through your Girls' Education program? Can I get letters from her?
It is Room to Read's philosophy not to establish a direct one-to-one relationship between our donors and individual students. Part of the curriculum of our Girls' Education program helps girls to develop the independence and life skills necessary to make informed decisions for themselves and their families. Having the girls communicate directly with a benefactor overseas may lead them to believe that the solution to their problems lies outside their own community, fostering a culture of dependence.
Instead, we ask donors to contribute to a general fund that is administered at a local level by our in-country staff. The direct relationship with each girl is facilitated by our well-trained, locally-educated social mobilizers who act as both mentor and role model for approximately 50 girls each. In order to facilitate a personal connection between donors and the girls we serve without unintended negative effects, we publish an annual Girls' Education Yearbook. The yearbook contains a story and photos of one girl from each country where we operate the program, as well as detailed results. We also offer pre-planned group site visits throughout the year to several communities in each country of operation, which are open to the public.
For more information on the program or to download our latest yearbook, see our Girls' Education Program page.
How do you address the educational needs of children in developing countries?
We focus on the two areas where we believe Room to Read can have the greatest impact: literacy and gender equality in education. Our programs seek to help primary school children become lifelong, independent readers and to support adolescent girls in successfully transitioning to and completing secondary school with the life skills neccessary to make informed decisions thereafter. We achieve these objectives through five core programs:
- School Libraries- We establish libraries and fill them with local language books published by Room to Read, donated English books, games, furniture, etc. - everything needed to establish a child friendly learning environment.
- Book Publishing- We source new content from local citizens and authors and publish high-quality children's books in the local language. These books are then distributed throughout our network of schools and libraries.
- School Construction- We partner with local communities to build schools so that children can have a safe learning environment.
- Reading and Writing Instruction- By developing supplementary teaching materials and conducting in-service teacher training, we seek to supplement the gaps that exist in the existing reading and writing curriculum of the countries across Asia and Africa where we work.
- Girls' Education- We provide material and academic support to girls in nine countries and conduct life skills workshops so that each girl we work with graduates secondary school with the knowledge and skills necessary to make informed life decisions.
Does the work you are doing in these countries mean you support their governments?
We act as a non-governmental charitable organization. Because we work in public (government) schools, we partner with government ministries of education to implement our educational projects but are not involved in their politics.
Where does Room to Read currently work?
In 2000 Room to Read launched in Nepal, our first country of operation. As the organization grew, we began to identify other countries facing similar educational challenges that our programs were suited to address, which led to expansion into nine more countries across Asia and Africa.
Currently, Room to Read works in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zambia. We also have seven fundraising offices around the globe.
What are your plans for expansion?
Room to Read is growing every day—serving new communities and new regions in our 10 countries of operation. Recognizing that the need for our work exists in many other countries across the developing world, we are also firmly committed to increasing the international footprint of our programs. As such, we conduct research to determine countries that could benefit the most from Room to Read services and maintain a list at all times of potential expansion countries.
Our selection criteria for new countries of programmatic operation is both a science and an art, and includes programmatic and operational variables. Examples include education, literacy, gender equality, socioeconomic, and political indicators; as well as the ability to operate effectively, develop viable partnerships, and sustain program activities over time. We weigh these factors against country-level issues such as relative peace and demonstrated government commitment to education—both of which are essential for Room to Read to conduct our work effectively. Once a country is identified as a good fit, our team conducts extensive on-the-ground research and analysis that determines final selection.
What countries are next?
In 2012, we officially began programmatic launch in Tanzania, Room to Read’s tenth country of operation, and as outlined in our 2010 Strategic Vision, we plan to expand to at least one more country by 2014.
As always, we will keep all supporters abreast of expansion plans as they develop through our website, quarterly electronic newsletters and mailings.
Can you start working in my country?
Unfortunately, it is not that simple. As mentioned above, we have a detailed planning process that guides our expansion into new countries and is designed to ensure that our programs are the best possible match for a country’s educational challenges.
For this reason, we focus our expansion first on countries that are determined to be the best fits for our work.
How do you select the villages that you partner with?
One of Room to Read’s fundamental operating principles is community participation, so our local teams take great care in identifying each project site. While selection criteria may vary by country or program, there are three non-negotiable requirements:
- Needs assessment: Before beginning work, our team conducts a thorough assessment of each community to ensure that there is a genuine need for Room to Read’s support and that our programs can have a significant positive impact.
- Widespread community support: By agreeing to our “Challenge Grant” model, each community commits to assisting in project implementation and maintenance, both of which are essential to the sustainability of Room to Read’s programs.
- Government approval: Because we work in government (public) schools, the Ministry of Education at the local or national level (varies by country) must approve project locations before we can begin work.
Learn more about where we work.
How can my organization get the books you publish?
In addition to distributing our local language books to our growing network of schools and libraries, we occasionally donate books to other local NGOs in the countries where we work. If you are a representative of such an NGO and would like to apply to receive some of our local language books, please contact email@example.com.
We do not currently sell or donate any of our local language books outside of the countries where we work. If and when we change that policy, instructions for procurement will be added to our website.