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Education in the PhilippinesIn the Philippines, education has grown continuously over the years. However, the country continues to need improvement and educational reform throughout the provinces. Only half of children 3 to 4 years old are enrolled in daycare, and only 78% actually complete basic education. Only 13 out of 100 who enter Grade 1 complete their education, and less than 1% of Grade 6 children are academically ready for high school. The number of children out of school in the Philippines has reached 2.8 million. Furthermore, 40,000 teachers are sorely needed in the country.

These numbers show that there is still room for improvement. Educational access is vital for every child, and providing that for Filipino youth is a mission that many nonprofit organizations have taken up. Here are four organizations that are working to equalize and encourage education in the Philippines.

Education Foundation of the Philippines

Education Foundation of the Philippines has sponsored many elementary schools throughout the Philippines through its projects and has provided various resources to hundreds of students and teachers in the area. It has worked with Calapacuan Elementary, Batiawan Integrated School and Salvasion Elementary, and has also partnered with other organizations in the country to provide for the students. The resources it has provided are science materials that are used by all grades, math and reading materials and general school supplies.

The organizations it has worked with are God’s Little Lambs, Child Evangelism Fellowship and Quezon Hill Community Church. These partnerships work to provide their respective communities with adequate resources to help students succeed in their educational paths. They also advocate and raise awareness for the needs of school children in the Philippines. Together, they help to provide better education in the Philippines.

Teach for the Philippines

Teach for the Philippines believes in providing access to adequate education for Filipino children through enlisting young leaders as teachers in public schools. The country has a shortage of teachers, with 40,000 teachers needed in the Philippines. They focus on improving the quality of teachers and addressing systematic educational challenges. Teach for the Philippines uses a three core program to create teachers who improve student learning and spark the reform needed to transform public schools.

Teach for the Philippines has engaged over 300 leaders working toward expanding educational access and fostering change for education in the Philippines. Through its fellowship program, in place since 2013, over 10,000 public school students are reached annually. Its work has enabled children across the country to have better educational outcomes and access to previously inaccessible opportunities.

Room to Read

Room to Read reaches students all across Asia and Africa, with over 18 million children helped in 16 countries. It is an organization that focuses on children’s literacy and girls’ education. With the goal of encouraging learning and ending illiteracy, one way they have reached students is by distributing books. The group has recently published books in its 36th language, Filipino.

Room to Read provides books in Filipino to encourage Filipino children to develop reading skills and have confidence. The organization unveiled 20 new books at an event with the Department for Education, publishers, authors and more. These books share themes of personal challenge, inclusion and gender inequality. Room to Read has impacted children across the country and helps to reduce illiteracy through accessible books, helping education in the Philippines to flourish.

Save the Children

Save the Children has been working in the Philippines for over 30 years better children’s lives through access to equality education. They work with the government to develop policies and plans to ensure access and protection of children’s rights.

Sace the Children creates mother tongue books that have developmentally appropriate and culturally sensitive content. It established a Book Development Review Committee (BDRC), which ensures the process of choosing topics and languages includes tribal chieftains, community leaders. It also advocates and spreads awareness for educational issues, reaching over 145,000 people on its platforms. This organization also helps with other areas such as health and sanitation and natural disaster aid. Their programs have helped access to education in the Philippines.

In Conclusion

These four organizations show various ways people are working towards education equality in the Philippines. While the work they are doing is admirable, education equality for Filipino youth is an area that requires more aid and effort. Education in the Philippines will grow more robust and accessible as more organizations are created and  equalize the playing field for elementary and high schools students throughout the country.

Kiana Powers
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Illiteracy in Nepal
Nepal is a country of Asia that lies along the southern side of the Himalayas. It is a landlocked nation with a territory of just 500 miles east to west. Nepal has long experienced isolation under a series of rulers who favored isolationist policies and remained closed off to the rest of the world up until the year 1905. Today, Nepal is a country between two superpowers, India and China. As a result of this extreme isolation, it has become one of the least developed nations in the world. This underdevelopment has also led to a heavily illiterate population. Here are seven interesting facts about illiteracy in Nepal.

7 Facts About Illiteracy in Nepal

  1. Illiteracy in Nepal: As recently as 2015, Nepal had an illiterate population of 6,784,566 people. Luckily this statistic has been on a steady decline of about 2 percent every year since 1991.
  2. Literacy in Nepal: Nepal’s literate population in 2015 was at 55 percent. Although this means that just under half the population is illiterate, it is still an extremely large increase from the 1950s, during which only 5 percent of the population was literate.
  3. Women: Only 49 percent of women in Nepal are literate. The average literacy rate for women in Nepal is 20 percent lower than men. This may be a result of fewer women completing a full education than men, a statistic that is slowly becoming more equal and challenging illiteracy in Nepal.
  4. World Vision: Thankfully, literacy rates in Nepal are rising. An organization called World Vision has been working to eliminate illiteracy in Nepal. World Vision has been training teachers in Nepal to use more engaging methods to get their students more interested in reading.
  5. Reading Camps: World Vision has also created reading camps outside of school, in addition to encouraging parents to nurture a reading friendly environment in their homes so students are more willing to read. In just two years, the children involved in the program were one and a half times better at reading than children who did not attend the program.
  6. Room to Read: Another organization, Room to Read, has created a Girls’ Education Program that has helped nearly 5,000 girls in Nepal since 2001 to read and write. Children in Nepali schools with Room to Read libraries have checked out, on average, more than 16 books per student. Room to Read has been a catalyst in helping many children to appreciate reading.
  7. Five-Year Initiative: In 2016, Room to Read launched a five year initiative with the government of Nepal, USAID and the research group RTI International to improve the country’s primary grade literacy programs greatly. This initiative has the goal of changing the lives of 1 million students in grades one to three in order to combat illiteracy in Nepal.

Illiteracy in Nepal is an issue that has significantly decreased due to the actions of these, and many other programs and initiatives, all with the goal of improving literacy rates in Nepal. If it were not for groups like Room to Read and World Vision, the people, and especially the children, would still be stuck in the darkness of illiteracy.

– William Mendez
Photo: Flickr

Improving Child LiteracyChild literacy is often taken for granted, but around the world, millions are growing up without the ability to read or write. What many do not realize is that literacy has a direct effect on poverty. According to a study conducted by the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization, there are links between illiteracy and higher unemployment. The study also found that illiterate adults are more susceptible to illnesses, exploitation, lower pay, and human rights abuses.

The inability to read or write is a self-perpetuating cycle because it traps illiterate communities in poverty without the tools to help themselves out. These conditions make illiterate communities more at risk of violence and conflict. In fact, 40 percent of illiterate children live in countries with active conflicts. The issue prompted the United Nations to launch the International Literacy Decade in 2003, which has taught around 90 million people to read and write. Despite this effort, there are still millions of vulnerable children around the world that need assistance to escape illiteracy and its negative consequences. There are many organizations dedicated to improving child literacy rates and these are just three NGOs working hard to bring education to the world.

3 NGOs Improving Child Literacy Across the Globe

  • Room to Read: Room to Read is an NGO founded in 1998 that began its work in Nepal. Room to Read’s vision is to improve literacy and access to literature in low-income communities, with a special focus on gender equality in education. The NGO has now spread all over Southeast Asia and Africa and has benefited around 16.6 million children worldwide. The NGO has distributed 24.1 million books, trained 15,285 librarians and teachers, and has partnered with 30,337 schools to implement its literacy program. In addition to the literacy program, Room to Read also has a specific program for girl’s education which aims to close the gender gap in classrooms of developing countries. Room to Read has received many commendations, most recently receiving a perfect “four stars” rating from Charity Navigator for the thirteenth year in a row.
  • World Literacy Foundation: The World Literacy Foundation was founded in 2003 with the guiding mission to provide books, tutoring and literacy tools to children in communities that otherwise would not have access to these resources. WLF began transporting books to Africa in 2005 and shortly after developed low-cost eBooks that could be distributed in local languages. In 2016 WLF designed and implemented “Sun Books”, which are solar powered tablets that bring educational books to classrooms in Uganda without electricity or the internet. In 2014, WLF ran the first World Literary Summit to increase cooperation with other literacy organizations. Since then, the summit has been held in 2016, 2018 and is scheduled again for 2020. So far, WLF has been active in more than 93 countries, has provided access to literacy resources to 250,101 children, and last year alone reached more than 350,000 children and adolescents.
  • Pratham: Pratham was founded in 1995 in Mumbai, India with the goal of having “every child in school and learning well.” Pratham is one of the largest NGOs in India, operating in 21 out of 29 Indian states and with volunteers in 300,000 Indian villages. Its mission is to improve literacy and the quality of education in India by supplementing government efforts and supporting teachers and parents. Pratham’s lead program, Read India, was launched in 2007 and has reached more than 30 million children. The program also provided training for around 61,000 teachers to improve literacy all across the country. Pratham has been a strong advocate for education reform to improve basic competencies like reading, writing, and arithmetic in Indian school children. Several state governments use Pratham’s Annual Status of Education Reports to plan yearly education programs. In 2013 Pratham was named one of the top 100 NGOs in The Global Journal for their pioneering work in primary and literacy education in India.

There are still 124 million children and adolescents that are not enrolled in school and one in four children in developing countries is illiterate. Tackling child and adult illiteracy is no easy task but it is NGOs like Room to Read, WLF and Pratham that are making big strides in closing the literacy gap. By providing training and resources to the neediest communities, these three NGOs provide disadvantaged children the fundamental tools needed to escape poverty.

– Isabel Fernandez
Photo: Flickr

Literacy Programs in Sub-Saharan AfricaIn sub-Saharan Africa, more than one in three adults cannot read and 22 percent of primary aged children are not in school. A staggering 48 million youths ranging from ages 15 to 24 are illiterate. In fact, 182 million adults are unable to read and write. Global organizations around the world mobilized literacy programs in sub-Saharan Africa to provide children opportunities to develop and thrive.

Defining the Literacy Crisis

According to the African Library Project, UNESCO defines a literate person as someone who can read and write a short, simple statement about their life. Illiteracy denies people opportunity because it impacts the individual’s active citizenship, health, empowerment and the state of their poverty.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the World Literacy Foundation reports that 27 percent of people are illiterate. This is a part of the world where the cost of a children’s book can be a month’s salary. According to the World Literacy Foundation, millions of classrooms in Africa are located “off the grid” and have limited educational resources and no books.

The reading crisis has led to several strategies for improvement, such as:

  •  promoting a culture of reading
  •  encouraging parents to read to their children
  •  making books accessible in schools and improving initial teacher education through literacy programs in sub-Saharan Africa.

Why South Africa?

South Africa was ranked last out of 50 countries in the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRLS) study. The study tested reading comprehension of learners in their fourth year of primary schooling. The organization found that 78 percent of South African pupils at this level could not read for meaning. Consequently, this suggests the need for literacy programs in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to a reading project called The Book Bus, Malawi is ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world. The country faces challenges in education because the student-to-teacher ratio is 120:1. The organization noted how the numbers impacted the vital role teachers play in the classroom. This is especially crucial as books are rare and very expensive in this part of the world, often costing more than one month’s wages.

As a response, The Book Bus reading project has partnered with two local schools in Malawi to support teachers with their literacy programs in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the organization, the Book Bus Reading Team visits the schools weekly and listens to the children read.

Literacy Programs in sub-Saharan Africa

Room to Read began working in South Africa in 2006 as a literacy program. The program was directed toward:

  • teacher training in literacy,
  • school libraries
  • reading materials across many official languages.

The organization has published materials in all eleven of South Africa’s official languages. Their literacy program aligns closely with the government’s educational policies and priorities. Currently, Room to Read in South Africa has reached 469 schools, 1,021 teachers and 362,180 students.

Room to Read collaborates with local communities and governments in developing countries. The program focuses on literacy and gender equality in education. Additionally, the nonprofit works with local villages to build schools and libraries filled with children’s books across South Africa. Room to Read also develops programs to support girls and encourage them to pursue an education.

Publisher Tom Maschler founded the registered charity, The Book Bus, in 2008. Mashchler began work with schools in Zambia, delivering books and working with teachers and volunteers to get more children reading. The program administered reading tests to each child and recorded the scores. Comparatively, the same test was conducted six months later and the results reflected an increase in literacy by an average of 35 percent.

Unique Methods to Literacy Programs

The World Literacy Foundation, under the initiative called Sun Books, designed and developed an app. That app is pre-loaded in a solar-powered device, containing digital content and e-books in English and the local language. The foundation provided the device to classrooms for early primary-level children, along with training for teachers about the device.

According to the foundation, the use of the device is effective regardless of internet or electricity. In territories like Uganda, where only 27 percent of the population has access to electricity and has limited internet access, this is particularly vital.

The Book Bus promotes the image that choosing the right books is crucial to ensure the books are relevant and engaging to each child. Accordingly, the program aids the children as a literacy program in sub-Saharan Africa. It also provides the children access to new worlds and helps expand their knowledge.

How Literacy Promotes Change

Each year, Book Aid creates and supports thousands of school libraries with the belief that books have the power the change lives. This belief is the foundation of their vision, mission and the values which guide the organization.

Additionally, Book Aid provides aid from primary school to university, aiding students and pupils with the books to help them succeed and reach their full potential.

Through collaboration with local governments, Room to Read educates communities on the importance of literacy. Furthermore, the program shows how to play a role in enabling students to succeed through literacy programs in sub-Saharan Africa.

Above all, organizations such as these make it possible to help children combat poverty through literacy programs in sub-Saharan Africa. Donations to help expand Room to Read, Book Aid, The Book Bus and several other global literacy programs can be found on their websites. The sites also provide information on more ways to take action.

– AnaCarolina Chavez
Photo: Flickr


Literacy in India is distributed unevenly, and in the rural places where it is absent, it has continued to perpetuate poverty. Thirty-six percent of the world’s illiterate live in India, and one in five people were considered poor in 2016.

Room to Read is a program dedicated to using education as a weapon against that imbalance. It launched in 2003 in India and is now the most successful program among the 10 countries where it operates. By encouraging active reading habits and setting a goal to have all girls finish secondary school, literacy in India is improving immensely with the program’s help.

Students involved with the Room to Read Literacy Program read three times as fast as students in nearby schools, and of the 2014 graduates from the Girl’s Education Program, 84 percent went on to pursue post-secondary degrees.

Forty-seven percent of girls in India marry before the age of 18, and therefore do not pursue education. Young marriage perpetuates poverty, as the young women must provide for a family with limited opportunities. Today, female literacy in India is up to nearly 63 percent compared to 45 percent in 2000, and poverty is declining along with it.

For its humanitarian successes, Room to Read was given a Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2006. This distinction represents the proven impact of an organization and grants it $1.25 million in support.

The sustainable model of Room to Read works largely with local governments to create a model of education that can be recreated and instated across developing countries even after the organization’s direct involvement has expired.

So far, the state governments of Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh have been the most impressed in India, and have asked Room to Read to implement its educational system in the states for five years. What began as 360 schools in 2015 grew into 1,000 by 2016, and the three million children reached in India so far is expected to grow to a total of four million.

Putting that in the perspective of a campaign in its 14th active year, it is no surprise that Room to Read has benefited 11.5 million children globally, with its campaign in India ranking the most successful. Poverty will continue to become rare as literacy in India becomes the norm.

Brooke Clayton

Photo: Flickr

Global Book Distribution Organizations
Global literacy rates have risen in recent years, with adult literacy at 84.1 percent and the youth rate at 89.5 percent. Roughly 896.7 million people cannot read or write. Two-thirds of these people are female, and a majority live in sub-Saharan Africa and southwest Asia. Reading and writing skills are valuable for continuing education and defeating poverty, thus making global book distribution organizations invaluable.

Room to Read’s website shares the chilling statistic: “A child born to a literate mother is twice as likely to survive past age five.” In order to improve global education and literacy, a plethora of organizations have emerged to provide books to disadvantaged areas. These global book distribution organizations are all working to raise literacy with unique approaches to best serve their target community.

1. Book Bus
The Book Bus was started by publisher Tom Mascher in 2008. The program began in Zambia but has since grown to Malawi and Ecuador. It emphasizes providing relevant books to both the age and reading level of its recipient. It delivers books and directly teaches children as well. Mobility is a huge asset to this program; because literacy rates are lowest in remote areas, the Book Bus can travel to disadvantaged communities and schools.

2. International Book Bank
This organization is more academic than many of the other global book distribution organizations. The International Book Bank supplies large quantities of new, single title books for classroom use to improve global education. Since its first shipment to Jamaica three decades ago, it has sent books for every age group all over the world. By allowing communities to choose the books they need, and providing enough copies for the entire class, the International Book Bank ensures that schools have the appropriate resources.

3. Book Aid International
Book Aid International has been around since Lady Ranfurly set up a library in the Bahamas in 1954. She continued the program in the U.K., where it grew to send books to more countries. Currently, Book Aid International provides books for education establishments, refugee camps, prisons and libraries in Palestinian territories and twelve African countries. For nomadic people, the organization has built mobile libraries. It has reading materials and spaces that can be transported via truck, camel or horseback.

4. Room to Read
In 2000, Room to Read began delivering donated books to rural Nepalese communities. Over the last 16 years, the program has expanded to building schools and libraries, training teachers, and supporting girls’ education. It works in eight countries and publishs books in local languages. In 2012 alone, Room to Read’s libraries supplied 9.7 million books.

5. International Book Project
The International Book Project is based in Lexington, KY and ships all over the world. It sends boxes of books any size between small shipments and sea containers that can supply an entire school district. In 2007, it launched a unique program called “Books as Bridges”  where schools in Kentucky are paired with schools overseas. Students exchange letters, packages and books to improve both writing skills and cultural awareness. The last school year had 50 participating classrooms from seven countries, with a total of 2,694 students.

6. African Library Project
The African Library Project ships American books to Africa. It matches communities on either end through a substantial network of organizations. U.S. institutions then gather books and funds to start a library. They emphasize sustainability by recycling used books and supporting the new libraries abroad. To accomplish this, libraries are built in places where the community has the manpower, space and enthusiasm to start a library and receives regular check-ups by African partners. This project has started 1,825 libraries in 12 countries.

7. World Literacy Foundation
The World Literacy Foundation has been focused on book distribution since their founding in 1996. Recently, it has increased digital learning as people have more access to technology. On the website, its noble vision is stated simply: “We envision a world in which every one of us can read and write, in which there is free access to education for all.”

While there is still much to be done, these seven global book distribution organizations are making massive impacts on global education.

Jeanette I. Burke

Photo: Pixabay

Room to Read 10 Findings to Improve Global Education
Room to Read set out to change the lives of children around the world by focusing on literacy and gender equality. Fifteen years later, the non-profit has educated almost 10 million children.

Their other accomplishments include publishing more than 1,000 books in local languages, building more than 1,900 schools, establishing more than 17,000 libraries and providing more than 31,000 girls with education and life skills.

Room to Read facilitates education programs in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zambia. Through monitoring and evaluating their programs, Room to Read has revealed 10 keys to their success:

  1. Children read faster and with greater comprehension when they benefit from systematic reading instruction that focuses on phonics.
  2. Children are more likely to read when their teachers have been trained in how to conduct reading activities, such as reading aloud and shared reading.
  3. Children prefer illustrated fiction books, such as folklore and fantasy.
  4. Libraries are well-run and effective when they are monitored and evaluated consistently.
  5. Access to libraries makes students want to read more at school and at home.
  6. Transparency leads to greater community involvement and participation.
  7. Advocacy and partnerships with local governments are crucial to improving instructional methods and professional development for educators.
  8. Parent and guardian engagement in their daughters’ education is essential.
  9. Life skills education is directly associated with lower dropout rates and higher advancement rates among girls.
  10. Identifying risk factors and implementing early warning systems can prevent girls from dropping out of school and provide them with needed support.

“Achieving our milestone of 10 million children impacted through Room to Read’s programs is a time to celebrate and further our mission,” said Erin Ganju, Room to Read’s CEO and co-founder. “By sharing our findings on what works in global education, we hope to deliver a quality education to every child in every corner of the globe.”

Marie Helene Ngom

Sources: Roomtoread, PRNewswire, AnnualReport
Photo: Flickr

donated books
For millions of American students, July marks the beginning of summer and the completion of another year of school. Despite the grade level or location, many American students share one thing in common: stacks of books they will likely never open again. Stacks of already-read novels, or subject-and-grade-specific textbooks, will sit and collect dust for the remainder of their shelf lives.

There is a much smarter option for used books: donation. Taking five minutes to donate a pile of used books could change the life of a child or adolescent forever.

Today, 250 million children worldwide cannot read. Most of these children live in developing countries, and education affords them with one of the only opportunities to break the cycle of poverty: employment. But many children simply cannot acquire the necessary literacy skills because they lack access to libraries and an appropriate selection of books, not to mention physical classrooms and quality teachers.

Donating used books is an incredibly simple, powerful way in which we as a nation can help alleviate the global education crisis. Not sure where to start? Here are three organizations that can help you place your books into the hands of children who need them most:

1. Books for Africa (BFA) has shipped over 28 million books to 49 countries since 1988. BFA believes that a culture of literacy is truly the most empowering asset a community can have. The organization currently accepts: fiction and non-fiction books that are 15 years old or newer; primary, secondary and college textbooks; reference books (such as encyclopedias) published in 2003 or later; and medical, nursing and law books published in 1998 or later. A team of BFA volunteers sorts and packs these books, ensuring that each box of books is donated to the appropriate classroom or organization. For information on where to ship donations, please visit Books for Africa.

2. Better World Books (BWB) collects and donates books to support and fund literacy initiatives worldwide and also sells new books. Not only does the organization accept funds and book donations, but for every book purchased on BWB’s website, another book is donated to literacy programs worldwide. The organization boasts 10 million donated books to partner programs — including Books for Africa — around the world since its 2002 beginning. For information on how to donate books and what books are accepted, as well as directions for printing a shipping label for your donation, please visit Better World Books.

3.  Room to Read began in Nepal in 2000, when the organization began bringing donated books to rural communities in need. Today, the organization works globally and is dedicated to promoting and enabling education through programs focused on literacy and gender equality in education. Room to Read has thus far reached 7.8 million children by establishing school libraries, donating and publishing local-language children books and training teachers on literacy education. The organization has distributed 14,588,494 books worldwide since 2000. Though it’s not currently accepting book donations, Room to Read partners with Better World Books, a partnership that ensures that books are being placed where they’re needed most. The organization does accept monetary donations online at Room to Read.

If every child received an education, 170 million people would escape the chains of poverty. In a nation where education resources and tools are a given, we have a great responsibility — and opportunity — to contribute to the fight against the global achievement gap. Donating books or funds that support global literacy programs helps equip children in impoverished communities with the tools necessary not only to learn and succeed as students, but also to establish a better life for themselves, for their families and for generations to follow.

– Elizabeth Nutt

Sources: Global News, Better World Books, Room to Read, Books For Africa
Photo: All Things SD

NGO_Tostan
Education is one of the key weapons to combatting poverty around the 
world. Several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have come up with unique programs and solutions to allow greater access to education in developing countries.

1. Barefoot College was founded in 1972 in India and works to build skills in rural villages. The founders of Barefoot College wanted to apply traditional knowledge to modern day problems by teaching locals specialized skills. They believe that literacy is learned in school, but education is gained from “family, culture, environment and personal experiences, and both are important for individual growth.” Their entire campus is powered by solar energy, teaching the local community about sustainable energy. Barefoot College teaches the local community about modern technologies and women’s empowerment, to help them grow as human beings.

2. Room to Read was founded in 2002 to increase literacy and gender equality in Africa and Asia. This organization aims to improve the habit of reading among elementary school children and increase the number of girls who stay in school beyond elementary school. It has become one of the most well known international education programs, with 50 chapters in 16 countries. The organization relies on a model that creates programs to support girls financially and mentally, building new schools and libraries, and providing books. Since 2002, Room to Read has encouraged around 7.8 million children to read more.

3. Tostan was founded in 1991 and is dedicated to community development education and ending female genital cutting. Located in 8 African countries, this organization combines education and development goals in a “three year nonformal education program.” Instead of conforming to a standardized model of development, local communities can create own programs that suit their own needs. A facilitator is appointed to live and work with each rural community for three years, teaching them human rights concepts, health habits, reading and mathematics, project management and income generation ideas. Out of the democratically elected 17 members Community Management Committee, who carry out development projects, women must hold 9 of the positions. This ensures that the women in their community have their voices and problems heard. Since 1991, over 200,000 individuals have directly participated in Tostan.

– Sarah Yan

Sources: International Relations Online, Tostan
Photo: Tostan

Room-to-Read
Room to Read is a non-profit organization started by John J. Wood in 1999. He got the idea for the organization when he visited a school in Nepal one year during a vacation. There were 450 students at the school, yet there were no children’s books. The library only a had a few books that were inaccessible to the students. The following year, Wood quit his job at Microsoft and returned to Nepal with 3,000 books to build a functioning library for the children. This was how Room to Read began.

Wood believes that simply coming into a country, building a library or school, and then leaving does not completely fix the problem. Instead, he says that prolonged community involvement is key. Finding local librarians and teachers to encourage students to read and learn will create a ripple effect. It creates jobs for native citizens and gives kids an education. Everyone is more invested in the outcome that way because they are actively involved in the solution, and results will last longer than if they simply received a gift from someone in a foreign country.

He also encourages more affluent students and families to participate in raising money for Room to Read through ‘sponsored silence’ programs and Read-a-thons. So far, Room to Read is established in 10 countries and will have helped 10 million kids by 2015. Other accomplishments include building 15,000 libraries and 1,600 schools, publishing 850 original children’s books, and enrolling 20,000 girls in a special girl’s education program.

Katie Brockman
Source New York Times
Photo: Room to Read