BES Nepal have been implementing “Literacy Program” funded by Room to Read that aims to make primary school children of 50 government school of Palpa District lifelong independent readers by developing their reading skill and reading habits.
Many studies and experiences have shown that Nepal has done tremendous improvement in access to education but there are still a lot to do for the quality of education. This is not only the issue of Nepal.
According to estimations in the 2012 EFA Global Monitoring Report, at least 200 million primary-school-age children in the Asia Pacific Region, including those who have spent at least four years in school, are not able to read, write or count well enough to meet minimum learning standards.
Studies done in Nepal by several organizations have also shown similar results. Room to Read’s study done in 2009 says, only 43% students in grade 2 could read all letters correctly. Similarly, EQUIP’s study done in 2010 shows that 36% of native Nepali speaking students in grade 3 could not read a single word in a text. Save the Children’s study done in 2011 highlights that 80% students in grade 2 could not read a single word; the mean oral reading fluency was 5 words per minute. The SSRP midterm review found that progress has been made on expanding access to education, but students’ learning levels are still low.
The report further says that students are not developing the reading skills they need in the early primary grades, and there is a need to measure student learning progress as well as changes in classroom processes more systematically. There is a general agreement that at the stage of primary schooling, “reading” plays an important role in building a strong foundation for future success in education. Many researches on reading skills in children in the developing countries have highlighted the huge challenge around students’ inability to read at their grade appropriate level. Most children fail to read basic structures and words in their language even after they have reached the grades 4 and 5. It is well known that students who do not learn to read fall behind in other subjects too as they cannot read well and understand the content, causing them to drop out. Generally, it is said that children who do not learn to read cannot read to learn.
In Room to Read’s experience, the following are the key reasons for low literacy skills among primary level children:
- a) Lack of access to culturally relevant, developmental, age appropriate and gender sensitive reading materials at school,
- b) Lack of skills of teachers and librarians to teach literacy skills and develop the habit of reading,
- c) Poor and unsafe physical learning environment at school,
- d) Poor family and community engagement and support to reading,
- e) Lack of appropriate policies and programs from the government to promote primary school literacy.
We strongly believes that the literacy is fundamental to exercising the right to a basic education and is crucial for economic, social and political participation and development. For these reasons, Room to Read has made literacy development a cornerstone of our work and designed and implementing a “Literacy Program”. The goal of our Literacy Program is for primary schoolchildren to acquire literacy skills and reading habits to become lifelong independent readers. One crucial input is regular access to books and other reading materials, which are scarce in many of the communities where Room to Read operates. Room to Read establishes school libraries and publishes local language books to fill this gap.
1 UNESCO. (2012). EFA Global Monitoring Report 2012: Youth and Skills, Putting Education to Work. Paris: UNESCO.
2 Room to Read. (2009). Baseline study of the reading ability of grade 2 students in community schools of Nawalparasi, Pyuthan, and Dhading districts of Nepal. Nepal: Room to Read.
3 EQUIP 2(2010). Using Opportunity to Learn and Early Grade Reading Fluency to Measure School Effectiveness in Nepal USAID. Assessment of 480 grade 3 students was conducted in 2008 in 23 schools in 4 districts in Nepal.
4 An assessment of 368 grade 2 students was conducted by Save the Children in 2011 20 schools in 2 districts in Nepal
We establish school libraries to fill this gap. Since our inception, we have witnessed that children often do not have the grade-appropriate literacy skills needed to take full advantage of the school libraries. To achieve the long-term goal of making all children independent readers at the primary level, Room to Read also provides supplemental teaching materials/aids and teacher professional development in grades one and two to support and augment existing literacy instruction in the schools where we work. Additionally, Room to Read ensures schools have access to quality reading materials in libraries and classrooms by sourcing local-language materials and working with local authors and illustrators to develop original storybooks. Where needed, we also prove infrastructure support to schools to ensure there is adequate and safe classroom and library space for learning. Our literacy strategy capitalizes on our organizational strengths built over the last decade and defines a clear and carefully constructed path to the goal of increased literacy and a habit of reading in the children with whom we work.
The goal of our Literacy Program is for primary school children to acquire literacy skills and reading habits to become lifelong independent readers. The specific objectives are:
- Increase access to culturally relevant, developmental, age appropriate and gender sensitive reading materials at school,
- Increase effectiveness of teachers and librarians to teach literacy skills and develop the habit of reading,
- Improve physical environment of school to make class room more safe and joyful for learning,
- Increase family, peer and community awareness and support to reading,
- Increase collaboration with government to support policies and programs to promote primary school literacy.
In order to achieve above objectives, RtR Nepal implements the following programs in Nepal under its “Literacy Program”:
- Reading and Writing Instruction Program – This program builds teachers’ capacity in teaching effectively so that primary school children improve their literacy skills and acquire grade appropriate competencies. Literacy skills include listening, speaking, reading and writing abilities.
- School Library Program – this program supports in establishing school library to create a reading habit among children and provides capacity building training to teachers, school management committee members for effective functioning and sustainability of library.
- EXPECTED RESULTS
With the successful implementation of the “Literacy Program”, we expect the following key results at the school level by the Partner:
- A functional, child friendly and well managed library with culturally relevant, developmental, age appropriate and gender sensitive reading materials,
- Evidences of increasing usage of library materials and developing reading habit of primary school children,
- Evidences of library being sustained and owned by school,
- All libraries of project schools should be in “A” rank as per the 16 rating indicators.
- Evidences of family and community engagement to create conducive reading environment at home and to support/ promote reading of primary level children,
- Evidences of Reading and Writing Skills of grade 1 and 2 children being improved as expected by the curriculum of the government,
- Evidences of integration and institutionalization of new teaching approach introduced by RtR into school’s teaching system,