While most children are able to recognise all the letters in the alphabet by the age of five, many primary school age children in Nepal are falling behind due to the lack of books and guidance at home.
As a result, as many as 25 percent of children do not complete primary school and 20 percent of children repeat Grade One according to the Ministry of Education, 2014.
World Vision is addressing this in Nepal through a comprehensive programme referred to as ‘Unlock Literacy’ that complements the National Early Grade Reading Programme of the Nepal Government. An important aspect of this programme comes in the form of a reading camp, a community-inclusive intervention that enhances learning outside of school.
Let’s have a closer look at this intervention through the eyes of eight-year-old Anushka from Jumla:
Anushka (left) with her friends at Himchuli Reading Camp in Jumla. For the past year, Anushka has been attending the reading camp every Saturday, learning alongside 19 of her friends. Her facilitator, Dilmaya Mahat leads them in a 90-minute session, consisting of seven different activities targeting core reading and writing skills.
Anushka responds to the questions put to her by the facilitator after listening to a story. This activity helps children to pay attention and grasp information while listening, something not necessarily practiced at school.
Dilmaya (centre, sitting) teaches letter recognition and reading skills to the children through word cards. Belonging to the same community, Dilmaya was nominated as a volunteer and received training on facilitating and developing teaching materials from locally available products. Since then, she has been facilitating at Himchuli Reading Camp with a minimum stipend for every session she runs.
Children draw pictures during the ‘make and take’ activity of the reading camp. As the name suggests, they make drawings or writings during their Saturday session and take them home, to stick on the reading corner set up in their homes.
Anushka, at home, reading to her 65-year-old grandmother Gori. She does this at the reading corner set up with the help of her parents and her grandmother. Until a year ago, Anushka was going to school but not learning her ABCs. She was not able to recognise letters and would read with difficulty. But, with continuous practice and guidance at the reading camp and from her family, she now can read and write significantly better than before, which has affected her performance in school as well. “My English teacher says that I have improved much after attending the reading camp,” she shares. Her grandmother, agrees, “Earlier, Anushka was not interested in reading at all. She would waste all her time by playing with her friends. Now, she practices reading every morning and evening. Thanks to the reading camp.”