Learning Environments

Creating safe, child-friendly spaces

Adequate schools are often scarce in developing countries—especially in rural areas. Due to the scarcity of government funding in developing countries, the government schools that do exist are frequently older buildings in severe disrepair with a dirt floor or tin roof. Although these structures can be unsafe for children, they continue to be used because the community lacks a suitable alternative.

Room to Read’s Literacy Program partners with communities to construct bright, safe, child-friendly learning environments so all children have the opportunity to pursue a quality education and to reach their full potential. Once construction is complete, the school is owned and operated by the community or local government, and they are solely responsibility for upkeep and administration.

A place for readers

In order for children to become independent readers, effective communicators and lifelong learners, they need time to practice and exposure to a variety of texts.

School libraries offers a student a space that can facilitate an effective learning, socialization skills and play. Although our libraries come in all shapes and sizes, they share a few common traits, including educational puzzles and games, child-sized furniture, colorful, print-rich decorations and shelves full of local-language books.

Putting the library in place is only the first step. Once it’s complete, Room to Read’s Literacy Program works with school administration to ensure that children have ample time during school to explore the new resource and train teachers to effectively utilize the library materials to support the curriculum. Room to Read provides three years of initial training along with ongoing support to get the library up and running, and lay the foundation for long-term sustainability.

Room to Read libraries are stocked with a variety of locally-relevant books designed to capture the imagination of young readers. We classify storybooks, nonfiction texts and chapter books by reading level so that all readers can find materials at their level and continue to improve their budding literacy skills. As students' reading skills improve, they can move up the scale and find new books to challenge their minds and engage their curiosity.

Illustrations from I'm Old Enough published by Room to Read in Cambodia

A place for learners

Overcrowding is a serious issue throughout the developing world, where it is not uncommon for 80 or so students to be expected to study in a classroom built to hold 40 or less.

In addition to adding new classrooms, our school construction team also repairs and renovates existing buildings to improve lighting and ventilation, add restrooms, reduce outside distractions and make interiors more child-friendly. These improvements to the learning environment have been shown to have a positive effect on children’s education and are good investments in the long-term health of the schools we work with.

Access to resources

In places where community libraries or internet access are non-existent, Room to Read libraries serve as one of the few resources for independent learning and information-gathering for curious young minds. Our goal is to provide a variety of content to children in these communities, covering a myriad of themes including: gender equality, the environment, health, art, beginning words and basic vocabulary, morals and values, family life, folktales, rhymes and poems.

Meet Anita and Saroj »

Co-investing for lasting change

Room to Read shares project management responsibilities with each partner community. Through our Challenge Grant, community members are expected to co-invest in the project by providing cash, materials or “sweat equity” (donation of labor). This model sets the stage for long-term sustainability, and gives the local community both a high level of visibility to the project’s progress and a real stake in its success.

Books Checked Out per Student
Books Distributed
18 Million
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See our work

Documentary filmmakers travel to Room to Read projects across Asia and Africa to tell the stories of children who are benefitting from our programs.

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You can change the world

Send a girl to school, start a library, or build new classrooms. We can help you run your own fundraising campaign with your friends and family, complete with your own microsite to collect gifts and track your progress.

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Have questions?

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Global Office:
+1 (415) 839-4400
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