October 06, 2022
Room to Read staff have been working hard over the past several months engaging with students, educators, community members and government officials. From expanding our Literacy Program in Bangladesh to hosting summer camps for girls in Vietnam, it’s been another busy quarter! Read on to learn more about the exciting initiatives our global team has been working on.
Muhibur Rahman, director general of Bangladesh’s Directorate of Primary Education, recently attended an event to celebrate the launch of Room to Read’s Literacy Program in Moulvibazar, which is the sixth district in Bangladesh supported by Room to Read. Through this program expansion, 25,000 new children in 100 new schools will gain access to quality reading materials and literacy support. During the event, in the presence of school headteachers and local government officials, Mr. Muhibur said, “Government is the ultimate custodian for development of education. Room to Read is extending support in this regard. I request headteachers to sharpen skills for innovation.”
Room to Read Cambodia recently developed a training manual titled "Life Skills Education for District Resource Groups in Target Provinces” to support social mobilizers and educators in providing life skills education to students in Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program. The manual was developed at a Room to Read conference this past September which brought together representatives from Cambodia’s Curriculum Development Department, Secondary Education Department, Vocational Orientation Department of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports as well as staff from Room to Read’s Girls' Education Program. By the end of the conference, the group finalized the training manual, which will be distributed to social mobilizers and educators in the coming months.
To celebrate the launch of our Girls’ Education Program in the state of Andhra Pradesh, Room to Read India hosted an event in September that brought together Andhra Pradesh’s commissioner of education, representatives from Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV), a boarding school for girls from historically low-income communities, KGBV teachers and development officers from six districts.
During the event, Andhra Pradesh’s Commissioner of Education, Suresh Kumar, spoke about the important connections between the Girls’ Education Program and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, and how these initiatives fit into India’s new education policy. Staff from the Girls’ Education Program were also able to share findings of the scoping study that was conducted in Andhra Pradesh last year to evaluate opportunities for Room to Read to work with communities across the state.
Room to Read staff, as well as representatives from the government and academia, also engaged in a panel discussion focused on the importance of life skills and gender equality. Participants agreed that life skills are closely tied to the Sustainable Development Goals, and initiatives like the Girls’ Education Program are essential to support girls in completing their secondary education and charting their own life paths.
The event concluded with members of the audience and the panel vowing to work together to end gender inequality and committing to support to Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program in Andhra Pradesh.
Recently, staff from Room to Read Laos Girls’ Education Program and a team of videographers filmed at six schools across Luang Prabang to gather footage for life skills education training videos. The footage will be used to support new Room to Read educators and mentors tasked with teaching life skills lessons.
During filming, six lessons were taught by six teachers, each rehearsing and teaching the lessons without assistance from current social mobilizers or Room to Read staff. While many of the educators initially felt nervous to be in front of a camera, all became more comfortable and confident as the training progressed — one of the goals of the exercise.
In celebration of International Literacy Day, Room to Read Nepal and the Nepalese Society for Children’s Literature hosted a Children’s Literature Festival on September 20 and 21. The festival's goal was to emphasize the importance of ensuring children have access to high-quality storybooks. Engaging reading materials are essential in helping young learners develop their literacy skills and foster a love of reading. More than 3,500 participants attended the festival and engaged in panel discussions, a read-a-thon and various workshops.
Schools in the Nkangala District of Mpumalanga recently hosted several read-a-thons, where students had the opportunity to read and participate in other literacy activities. These events were intended to instill a love of reading in the students.
One of the schools even organized read-a-thons at a local shopping center and a senior care facility. Parents, seniors and other community members were invited to take part in the festivities as part of a community engagement strategy. During the events, students read books aloud to the groups in attendance.
Throughout September, Room to Read Sri Lanka celebrated International Literacy Day by launching its first ever nationwide campaign called “Read Books. Dream Big!” to promote a habit of reading among primary school children. The campaign was rolled out in the northwestern, central and western provinces of the country, with a goal to reach non-Room to Read schools and students and encourage children to read books regularly. Literacy Program staff also educated parents on how to help develop a habit of reading at home. Room to Read Sri Lanka even donated storybooks published by Room to Read to schools without libraries so they can start creating their own.
The campaign concluded at the end of the month and our team celebrated numerous successes. We were able to benefit 4,005 children from 23 non-Room to Read schools, engage 1,000 parents through 171 read aloud sessions and donate 3,808 Room to Read storybooks!
This year’s International Literacy Day was recognized worldwide under UNESCO’s official theme, “Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces.” To celebrate, Room to Read Tanzania staff organized a symposium to discuss key literacy issues under an adapted theme, “The Contribution of Libraries in Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces.”
The symposium focused on Room to Read’s Literacy Program strategy and aimed to strengthen engagement with the Tanzanian government’s key decision and policy makers. Attendees included representatives from the President’s Office Regional Authority and Local Government, the Ministry of Education Science and Technology, the Parliament Community Development Committee, the Tanzania Institute of Education and the Tanzania Library Service Board, as well as key NGO partners who work in library programs across the country.
Speakers emphasized the importance of libraries and how they have contributed to the success of students, and advocated that libraries are established in all government primary schools. A total of 30 participants attended in-person and more than 500 people joined online through a YouTube livestream.
Over the past several months, staff from Room to Read Vietnam’s Girls’ Education Program organized summer camps for hundreds of girls across Vietnam.
In Vinh Long, the Grade 9 summer camp centered around a theme of environmental sustainability. Staff referred to the camp as a “village of the future” and the girls in attendance were “village residents.” Residents were tasked with contributing ideas towards a sustainable development strategy for the village. The result? Numerous exciting initiatives! The girls created projects to support marginalized communities and people most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, researched how to reduce waste, produced organic fertilizer and organized cultural workshops on photography and drawing.
The Grade 12 summer camps in Long An and Tra Vinh gave girls a chance to connect with each other and reflect on their seven years of program participation. At the end of camp, many girls expressed gratitude to their social mobilizers for inspiring them and supporting them during their secondary education.