July 18, 2023
As the second quarter of 2023 comes to a close, we are sharing some recent examples of how Room to Read is helping foster literacy and gender equality across the globe.
The government of Bangladesh is making a groundbreaking move to foster independent readers in primary schools. During a workshop held at the office of the Directorate of Primary Education (DPE), attendees decided to establish a national forum for this purpose, with support from Room to Read Bangladesh. Esteemed representatives from the education sector, including officials from DPE, the National Curriculum and Textbook Board, the National Academy for Primary Education and the United Nations, responded positively to a draft framework presented by Room to Read and DPE.
Mr. Shah Rezwan Hayat, director general of DPE, visited a primary school in Natore and hosted a workshop for local and national DPE officials, as well as instructors from the Primary Teachers’ Training Institute. Discussions focused on the importance of classroom libraries and government monitoring mechanisms, with plans to pilot Room to Read’s classroom library model in 10 government primary schools. The government's commitment to building independent readers represents a transformative shift in Bangladesh's education landscape.
In September 2022, Room to Read India implemented our Girls' Education Program in the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh. The program was initiated in six government-run residential schools for girls from historically low-income communities, which are also known as Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs). This year, our program staff in Andhra Pradesh plan to expand to all KGBVs in the district, reaching up to 2,000 girls.
In June 2023, as part of this expansion, Room to Read India conducted a three-day training program for 62 KGBV teachers and principals who will be leading Girls’ Education Program life skills sessions during the 2023-2024 academic year. The trainings aimed to enhance teachers' abilities as life skills facilitators, teaching them thematic understanding of three life skills categories: self-awareness, self-efficacy and social awareness. Additionally, the program included practical sessions for educators to relearn classroom management practices based on positive discipline principles and improve facilitation skills.
An assessment conducted at the end of the training indicated significant development in the teachers' understanding of life skills. The district education officer and other officials from the local education department attended parts of the training and felt hopeful about the positive influence of the program. With ongoing support from Room to Read India, these life skills educators will now conduct life skills sessions with girls at KGBVs in Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh.
As part of our strategy to support the government's efforts in strengthening the education system and creating sustainable change, Room to Read Cambodia is supporting teachers by training them on how to lead life skills sessions. Our Girls’ Education Program team recently adjusted our approach to strengthen the sustainability of life skills education implementation by training District Resource Persons (DRP) as mentors and coaches for other teachers. This shift will provide key pedagogical support for teachers as they learn how to teach life skills sessions.
By the end of June, 77 DRPs from five of the six provinces where Room to Read works were trained in coaching skills to support teachers. Our team in Cambodia has received positive feedback from DRPs, who shared how they appreciated the trainings and found them helpful for teacher professional development.
In Laos, the number of teachers has decreased in recent years due to economic conditions and high living costs, which have led young teachers to explore alternate career options. Consequently, there is now a significant need for multi-grade classroom instruction in schools across the country. Many primary schools do not have enough teachers for Grades 1-5, so they have shifted to multi-grade classrooms where one teacher teaches multiple grades at a time.
Although multi-grade teacher training was not initially part of our Literacy Program, our staff wanted to address the challenges experienced by teachers in multi-grade classrooms at Room to Read schools. Room to Read Laos has started developing a multi-grade training manual as part of a project called "Learn to Read" in close consultation with the local government. The manual is currently being finalized and prepared for implementation in Room to Read Laos' schools, while the Laos government develops national curriculum for multi-grade teaching.
Room to Read's staff, in partnership with the District Education Bureau, led training sessions for multi-grade classroom teachers in four districts across the province of Luang Prabang from May through June 2023. The training focused specifically on the critical issues of teaching Lao language in a multi-grade setting using the current national curriculum and covered important topics such as multi-grade classroom management, lesson planning and multi-grade lesson writing.
In celebration of World Environment Day, one group of Girls’ Education Program students in the North Central province of Sri Lanka partnered with the Department of Forest Conservation to plant 70 trees across the dry zone of the country. Students from other schools organized campaigns to collect plastic and created posters to raise awareness about pressing environmental issues in Sri Lanka. Girls’ Education Program participants in the North Western province also included boys in these activities to make the campaigns more gender-inclusive and help spread awareness even further.
These campaigns tie into our broader implementation of climate justice as a component of Room to Read’s Girls' Education Program curriculum around the world.
On June 16, Room to Read Tanzania celebrated International Day of the African Child. Every year, the world celebrates this day to recognize and celebrate the achievements of African children and emphasize the importance of addressing challenges that prevent children across the African continent from accessing a quality education.
Room to Read organized a celebration in Dar es Salaam with students and teachers from local primary schools, as well as a group of local government and education officials. During the event, children engaged in different activities, including reading books on Literacy Cloud (Room to Read’s free digital library platform), participating in reading contests, reciting poems and drawing their favorite characters from storybooks.
Throughout April, which is recognized as reading culture month in Vietnam, Room to Read Vietnam ran a community engagement campaign called "Embracing Creativity with Literacy Cloud." Each week, a picture book from Literacy Cloud was posted on local social media channels along with a creative challenge related to the book's content. For example, for a book titled "Is the Ghoul Scary?," the challenge was to draw a ghost using imagination.
These challenges received strong participation from children, schools and families across the country, resulting in a variety of handmade art projects based on the chosen books. In total, over the course of four weeks, we received more than 100 products from 13 provinces and reached a total of 26,000 people. Teachers and parents were also encouraged to reuse the creative challenges to help encourage their students to read more books.