Read Liberia Inspires Parents To Create Time And Reading Spaces At Home

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Jartu Dunnor and Abraham Bawo barely finished elementary school.  However, they are determined to ensure that their three children get a solid foundation in reading.  In January, the couple turned their front porch into a reading space for their children, who range from ages 7-9.

The setting up of reading spaces is one of the primary goals of the USAID Read Liberia Activity, an early grade reading initiative that targets over 50,000 students in approximately 640 schools in six counties in Liberia.

Read Liberia’s social community mobilizers engage parents and communities to increase early grade school enrollment, promote reading at home, develop reading spaces in the Activity’s targeted counties.

They also encourage parents to follow-up on their children’s progress by nurturing relationships with teachers. Research shows that home support is instrumental to improved learning.

Dunnor and Bawo’s children attend Save the Children All-Girls School, one of the USAID Read Liberia-supported schools in Kakata, Margibi County. The Read Liberia program, Dunnor said, motivated her to get involved in the Parent Teachers Association. Now she encourages other parents in her neighborhood to support their children to read at home.

“I like Read Liberia program because they gave my children books that they bring home to read,’’ Dunnor said.  “Now, I’m telling other parents to support the program because our children are our future.’’

Though they do not read, the parents said they have their children read to them. One of the stories the children often read to Abraham is about a ship that crashed in the ocean. The couple’s front porch is one of a dozen reading spaces that were created in Margibi County. In rural communities, where some parents are more likely to have their children working on their farms instead of going to school, the reading spaces gave parents a positive outlook of their children’s future.

Parents credit Read Liberia’s social mobilizer for encouraging their involvement in promoting reading at home.

The Rev. Charles Kpehay is one of them. He created a reading space in Morrison Town, Todee District, Montserrado County, for close to thirty 1st and 2nd  graders. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, regular reading sessions were held every Monday and Wednesday for the children to read and be read to.

When public gatherings were banned because of the coronavirus, Rev. Kpehay began visiting homes in the community to encourage parents to read to their children and listen to the Ministry of Education (MOE) teaching by radio (TBR) program. The TBR program was supported by USAID through the Read Liberia Activity, within the MOE’s Education in Emergency (EiE) strategy. 

“The parents are really happy about this,’’ he said. “Before Read Liberia, most of them were sending their children to sell or work on the farm. Now, they know that they can have their children read at home with them.’’

The USAID Read Liberia Activity aims to improve early grade reading (EGR) skills for Liberian students in 640 public schools in grades one and two. This activity also pilot tests emergent literacy skills for Liberian students in 60 public kindergarten schools. The Activity is implemented, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, in six targeted counties: Lofa, Bong, Grand Bassa, Nimba, Margibi, and Montserrado, with the aim of scaling up the best practices to other schools in the country.

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