Since 2000, many victories have been made in the educational area, from increasing primary school enrollment by 8 percent in developing regions to the global literacy rate rising to more than 80 percent. But there is still a lot that can be accomplished in terms of improving literacy.
Through World Vision’s Literacy Boost program, educators, parents and community members are incorporated into children’s reading and writing education. The program is split into three categories: reading assessment, teacher training and community action.
The reading assessment is meant to establish a baseline of learning for students, giving teachers a better grasp of where their students are and giving them the ability to tailor curriculum to be the most effective.
In the classroom, Literacy Boost provides teacher training that ensures all teachers are fully literate and have a firm understanding of good teaching practices, and it stresses the value of teachers making learning fun for students. Studies have shown that children learn more effectively when they’re invested in course material and enjoying what they’re learning.
The Literacy Boost program also stresses the importance of continuing learning outside of the classroom. To do this, the program gives parents the tools necessary for helping their children read and write at home. Parents are also encouraged to use whatever is available to make reading a daily focus.
In Burundi, where only 64 percent of the population is literate, Literacy Boost volunteers have created necklaces with a piece of cardboard attached to the end with vowels written on it. The necklace is meant to help children whose parents are illiterate to practice their reading skills in the community with their literate neighbors.
This is where the community gets in on the action. From volunteering to create storybooks that are from the region of the children reading them to facilitating after-school activities, such as book clubs, the third pillar of community action ties everything together. In India, these book clubs have produced increased literacy levels among its members.
Since its start back in 2014, World Vision India has reported that the program has helped nearly 600 children in the program’s city of Lalitpur, with nearly 500 of them participating regularly in the book clubs.
Part of the success of the Indian book clubs is due to their 21 Book Banks, allowing children to borrow books to take home, teaching children to view reading as a fun pastime rather than a difficult school activity.
Linda Hiebert, senior director of Education and Life Skills at World Vision, emphasized the importance of reaching children early on in their education, establishing a solid foundation of literacy.
To do this, Literacy Boost has created a pre-primary school reading camp to give children a jump-start on their studies before they even step foot in a classroom. At the camp, children learn letters and vowels, preparing them to study a variety of subjects.
Thus far, the overall results have been promising. After a single year of the program, Bangladesh has achieved an improvement rate of reading comprehension of 40 percent, with other countries experiencing doubling and tripling of reading comprehension.
Through World Vision and Save the Children’s Partnership for Literacy campaign, the organizations are hoping to impact 1.5 million children in 15 sub-Saharan and South Asian countries by 2016, improving the lives of children today and future generations.
– Claire Colby