Children improve their reading skills with support from the Government of Japan and World Vision
After a challenging year 2021 for the Education sector in Lao PDR, the new year brings fresh hopes with the Government guidance on school reopening, along with vaccination of children to ensure classrooms remain a safe space to learn. Despite all the obstacles they have faced since COVID-19 started, the children supported by the Improving Reading, Advancement and Environment in School (iREAD) Project are showing outstanding progress in reading skills, an encouraging sign for 2022.
Started in late 2019, the iREAD project funded by the Government of Japan and implemented by World Vision is based in Thaphangthong district, Savannakhet Province. Over the last two years, 1,458 students from Grades 1 to 5 have been directly supported by the education project, as well as 34 government teachers who were trained on the Unlock Literacy model. This project model is a World Vision International evidence-based approach, which aims to improve reading skills by working closely with education authorities, teachers, communities, parents and children. World Vision also provided vital materials and books to the target schools to create a positive environment for reading improvement. In the schools supported by iREAD, the percentages of Grade 3 students able to read with comprehension increased from 5% in 2020 to 28% in 2021. In comparison, schools from the same district not supported by the project reported only a 6% increase in competent readers in 2021.
To ensure the efficiency and sustainability of the project, the team has worked closely with parents and the whole community to establish a common understanding of the importance of education. In collaboration with the District Education and Sports Bureau, the World Vision team works with different Village Education Development Committees (VEDCs) to develop a shared vision that education is a continuing process, not just confined to the classroom. iREAD team has trained 48 reading volunteers from the community to run reading groups with the students, in the community, after school. The project also organises frequent community events to increase the involvement of the parents in the education of their children. Since late November to January, 14 villages hosted reading events, welcoming over 800 students and 300 community members, including parents and caregivers. “Today, I got a chance to join the reading festival, I enjoyed it a lot!” says Jody, a 9-year-old boy, a student in grade 3. “I learnt about the story of the crow and the fox, I played bingo games and the most I enjoyed was playing football and tug-of-war. I look forward to the next reading festival from World Vision” he says.
© World Vision International – Parents are also getting involved in the project, attending the activities organised to support their children in their learning journey
The encouraging results of iREAD are confirming the successful trend of the broader education project model of World Vision. According to the latest Education Technical Program Evaluation report, covering projects in 4 districts, the Unlock Literacy model has had an overwhelming impact on Lao children in Grade 3 who can read with comprehension, which increased from 20% in 2019 to 40% in 2021. The evaluation results also showed that community-based reading groups were successful in providing additional literacy opportunities outside the school, enrolling 920 children for weekly sessions and providing reading awareness sessions for 905 caregivers to increase their understanding of the importance of literacy, as well as supporting their children to read at home.
Children like Jody are developing their reading skills with iREAD, and much more. Indeed, we often forget how powerful learning to read is. With this crucial skill, children can open doors leading to new worlds. Strengthening their comprehension and analytical abilities, stimulating their memories, stabilising their emotions, sparking their imagination. World Vision is proud to partner with donors like the Government of Japan, the Ministry of Education and Sports and the communities to equip children with all the necessary skills to face today and tomorrow’s challenges and empower parents and teachers with the tools and training they need, to give their children the opportunity to shine.
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