July 12, 2021
This month, we are excited to share some updates from our Literacy and Girls’ Education Programs around the world. As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in many countries where Room to Read works, our staff are more committed than ever to ensure education endures for thousands of children across the globe.
Throughout the ongoing school closures, Room to Read Bangladesh has continued to connect primary school children in our Literacy Program to print, digital, and electronic learning materials. Students have been excited to be able to access these new resources at home. To support resource delivery, government officials as well as teachers have posted instructions on social media and also appear on-site when needed.
In Cambodia, Room to Read is working with Promundo and GADC (Gender and Development for Cambodia), a nonprofit that promotes gender equality and prevents violence by engaging men and boys in partnership with women and girls through the Life Skills for Boys project. Our life skills curriculum is specifically intended to help boys examine gender norms and stereotypes. Room to Read will test the curriculum in Cambodia, with a gradual expansion across provinces as well as to other countries. On June 3rd and 4th, our Girls’ Education and Gender Equality Program staff partnered with GADC to conduct a curriculum contextualization workshop at the Room to Read Cambodia office.
Room to Read India recently held a week-long campaign to normalize conversations around menstrual health and hygiene. Across India, Room to Read state teams organized several innovative exercises. In Uttarakhand, Girls’ Education Program participants documented the experiences of menstruation across three generations of their families. In Chhattisgarh, girls and their families broke the stigma around menstrual hygiene products by proudly posing with them for photographs. In Delhi, Girls’ Education Program participants, their families, and social mobilizers organized virtual discussions on menstrual health during the pandemic. In Telangana, Room to Read invited Dr. Neelima, a prominent gynecologist, to speak to girls and their families about menstrual health and to dispel the myths that surround it.
On June 25th, the Laos Ministry of Education and Sports, in collaboration with Room to Read, held a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony on a project to promote girls' education in Luang Prabang and Champassak provinces. This project will run from June 2021 through June 2025. The MoU was signed by Mr. Sisouk Vongvichit, Director General of the Ministry of Education and Sports’ General Education Department, and Ms. Norkham Souphanouvong, Country Director of Room to Read Laos.
In Nepal, Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program continues with an upgraded radio program. After hearing concerns from girls about mental health, domestic violence, forced school dropout, and COVID-19 prevention, the interactive radio program was developed. The radio episodes aim to respond to questions from adolescent girls and their families, along with providing essential life skills instruction. In the first episode, an expert from the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization Nepal was invited to discuss how to cope with the pandemic and take care of mental health.
In honor of World Book Day, Room to Read South Africa hosted a belated event to celebrate the launch of our Literacy Program in 11 schools in the Capricorn South District. In 2020, 30 school libraries were built in the Capricorn South District. Room to Read also conducted training sessions and provided support for teachers and librarians. Although it was a difficult time to prepare for the celebrations, as it was the last day of school, all the schools agreed to take part in the different activities that were planned. The event was attended by teachers, principals, and students who participated in different activities such as poetry reading, drama, and storytelling. We were thrilled that all 11 schools in the district took part and went above and beyond to make the celebration fun and educational for the students.
At the beginning of June, Room to Read Sri Lanka launched a partnership with regional radio networks Rajarata and Kandurata Sevaya to bring life skills and reading development lessons to students in the North Central and Central Provinces of Sri Lanka. The radio programs will continue till the end of the year and will be highly beneficial for children who do not have access to the internet or TV so they can continue learning from home. The lessons include life skills and financial literacy development, which are broadcast three days per week, as well as reading development and comprehension lessons throughout the week between the two networks. Regional radio opportunities like these further help Room to Read reach as many children as possible during these challenging times to ensure that education continues uninterrupted.
On June 15th, Room to Read Tanzania signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Chalinze District Council that signified the launch of a new project, “Nguvu ya Msichana” (which translates to “Girls’ Power”).
The two-year project, which will be implemented from July 2021 to July 2023, seeks to build life skills and financial literacy skills for more than 8,000 9th grade girls across the district.
During his remarks at the ceremony, Room to Read Tanzania Country Director Juvenalius Kuruletera said that, “Room to Read is impressed by the idea of the Chalinze District Council to include life skills as a subject in school timetables. We will be happy to hear the district leads in form four examinations. Let’s be an example to other districts.”
Recently, a group of 30 Girls’ Education Program participants in Vietnam raised money to help two elders in their community as a way to “pay it forward”. The students proposed this as a Learning and Community Service Project, and also invited male students from their school to participate. To prepare, the girls organized trips to select beneficiaries and managed all human resources and finances for the project. The students came together to ask for support from parents during their class parent-teacher meeting. Thanks to their hard work, they raised 3,500,000 VND ($152 USD) to provide gifts for the two elders.
Learning and Community Service Projects allow Girls’ Education Program participants to practice life skills lessons, raise awareness about giving, and contribute positively to their communities. Room to Read hopes that these projects will inspire students to continue the spirit of giving and volunteering to help build stronger and more resilient communities.