Adam Goes to Reading Camp

Author Portrait_Mossi Hamadou, Sponsorship Operations Officer
Mossi Hamadou

Sponsorship Operations Officer

Save the Children in Niger

February 23, 2018

Centuries after gaining independence, education is still a challenge in many African countries.

Among these is Niger, one of the poorest countries in Africa – a country in which the government is struggling to achieve food self-sufficiency, suitable health and education services for its population, and fight the challenges of endemic poverty.

Under these contexts, education, although a priority, is managed in a way that it has not responded to people’s expectations, particularly those who live in rural areas. Due to limited financial resources, the education system sometimes hires under-qualified teachers with little or no training, especially in rural communities where schools also lack basic supplies, materials and equipment like books, guides for teachers or benches for children to sit on.

Fortunately, the sponsorship program is working to address these challenges in the communities of Tchadoua and Aguié by improving learning environments in schools and starting literacy strengthening programs, like reading camps in the communities.

12-year-old Adam has grown a lot since joining reading camps.
12-year-old Adam has grown a lot since joining reading camps.

Adam is 12 years old and lives in Aguié. Like many of his peers, he has really developed as a student thanks to his participation in reading camps through sponsorship.

When Adam first joined sponsorship, he, like many of the other children in Aguié, could hardly read the alphabet. Born in a large family comprised of twenty members, he was not receiving any support in his education while they all struggled to make ends meet. Sometimes he came to school hungry, without having any breakfast. He did not like school, largely because they could not afford any books or writing materials for him to use. He often left class or didn’t attend school at all, and felt no confidence in his studies.

But the sponsorship program has changed everything for the better. The schools are now provided with supplies and materials for their students. Reading camps are set-up in the villages, where children can learn in a child-friendly environment that makes learning fun through games and interactive lessons. There they sing songs, learn rhymes and complete puzzles that improve their reading and writing skills.

Due to his regular attendance of the reading camps, Adam who initially was unable to read a two-syllable word, can now read long words on his own.  “The reading camp has helped me improve my reading ability, I can read words, but not fluently.” He admits shyly, “We easily learn at the camp because it’s a free learning environment. We play, we sing and we feel free to take any book you want. Our instructor is very kind with us. I like school as I want to become a lawyer.’’ Adam tells us proudly.

Adam and his classmate Raouda show their dreams for the future.
Adam and his classmate Raouda show their dreams for the future.

Today, Adam does very well. At the last examination he was the fifth in his class, out of fifty pupils. Before joining the reading camps, he was only ranking as twentieth in terms of grades and school performance. He is highly motivated and hopes to be the first member of his family to complete secondary school.

Adam is supported in his dream by his father who is also proud of the changes he’s seen in his son. “Adam has changed now and is performing well, it’s thanks to the intervention of Save the Children which brought the reading camps. Children play more in reading camps and they learn better because they feel free. We who are parents have been sensitized on the importance of education and we are conscious that intelligence is the shield of life,” said Rabiou, with an expressive smile.

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

To Be a Teacher

Author Portrait_Simone Jussar, Quality Communications Coordinator
Simone Jussar

Quality Communications Coordinator

Save the Children in Mozambique

February 16, 2018

In the Nacala-a-Velha region of Mozambique, in a community called Locone, lives the little Sara, a 10-year-old student in grade 2, who like many other children in her community dreams to be a teacher.

Save the Children in Mozambique has been working hard to improve the quality of education in rural Mozambique for children like Sara, such as by training teachers and school managers, forming school councils, and promoting and developing new school activities for students like reading fairs and camps.

Sara tells us, “I want to be a teacher to help other children in the community.”

Sara attending a reading camp lesson./center>
Sara attending a reading camp lesson.

In the beginning of the school year, Sara had poor performance and lacked confidence in the classroom. She was ashamed because she couldn’t solve the math exercises, and couldn’t yet read the alphabet easily or participate in the lessons. Her teacher tells us that in collaboration with Save the Children staff, parents like Saras’s father and other community members, the community came together to create reading camps. These camps would host sessions twice a week for struggling learners like Sarah, to offer the extra support they need outside of school – although all children are encouraged to attend.

Community members with some education or good literacy skills, and talents for entertaining and connecting with young children, are selected as reading camp promoters. They are constantly receiving trainings through sponsorship to improve their teaching abilities. The promoters identify children’s individual difficulties and host sessions in the mornings or afternoons, and focus on building numeracy and literacy skills. By ensuring camps provide child-centered educational games, fun, lively lessons, plentiful and interesting books and a supportive environment, children gradually gain confidence and develop a love for learning.

After just one month of attending the lessons at reading camps with the other children, Sara’s school performance began to improve.

She was able to remember so much more, like names of animals, objects and other words in her world.  She also developed a good understanding of numbers, started to understand and solve basic mathematics exercises, and was finally able to read the alphabet without hesitation. At school, she became one of the most outstanding students, always turning in her homework correctly, helping her classmates to do their homework and solve math problems. Her confidence in the classroom had blossomed, and she became a frequent participant in all her classes. Specifically, Portuguese, the national language of Mozambique, became her favorite subject. “We make lessons more fun with some song and dance, in order to ensure that the child is happy and ready to learn, and Sara is improving her skills,” shares Momade, Sara’s reading camps promoter.

Sara participating in a lesson about vowels.
Sara participating in a lesson about vowels.

Sara continues to improve significantly in her school performance and grades. “I remember when she used to just participate in the lessons when she was called on. Today, she is one of the most responsible of the group in her grade,” shared her teacher, Tuaha.

Now she is very happy to attend lessons. “I like to be here at the reading camp and I also enjoy learning, because together with Momade, we play, sing and dance,” Sara smiled. Today, sponsorship in Mozambique has over 80 reading camps supported by our sponsors, reaching over 10,600 children.

Many children are now experiencing a love for learning for the first times in their lives, thanks to you!

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

To Learn and To Play

Capture
Yasintha Bere

Data Quality and Communication Officer

Save the Children in Indonesia

December 8, 2017

“To take care and educate your own child is simply a task of parents and almost everyone does it, yet to do the same for the other children is a matter of choice,” said Henderina in a conversation with sponsorship staff while meeting in her home. Yes, Henderina is one of those who chooses to educate not only her children – Yedija and Grace, ages 3 and 9 respectively – but also the other children in her community, at their sponsorship supported Reading Camp. She has been trained as a community volunteer by Save the Children in order to run the Reading Camp in her house for the local children. She believes that reading can be the window for the little villagers to see the world and to achieve their dreams.

As the Reading Camp had just been established, children ages 6 – 10 came with great enthusiasm. They came together to play games that strengthen their literacy skills and to learn to read the newly provided books. “It was such a joy to see children enjoy the games and learning. You can see that this is what they really need, to play and to learn through games with their peers.” Before sponsorship helped establish a Reading Camp in their community, children had very little access to books or other reading materials. Most have no books at home of their own, and there was no community library available.

After the Reading Camp was established, children like Maksimilianus, Fransiska and Ananda came with great enthusiasm.
After the Reading Camp was established, children like Maksimilianus, Fransiska and Ananda came with great enthusiasm.

With the creation of the Reading Camp, two challenges of improving the reading ability of local children were solved. Firstly, with the provision of books, which could also be lent to children so they could read them at home. Secondly, through the provision of a passionate facilitator like Henderina, who helps them to be motivated to learn and who encourages group learning styles that makes learning amongst friends fun for the children.

Henderina realizes that children this age cannot be forced to learn in a way adults may be able to. They need friends. They need to play. Therefore, in her Reading Camp, she tries to incorporate learning through play every day. Children can learn phonetics, letters and vocabulary through singing, playing games, solving puzzles and storytelling. Henderina dedicates her time for the children happily, having fun too with them in the Reading Camp.

Running the Reading Camp in a community where not all parents are aware of the significance of education and literacy is not without challenges. One of them is finding a way to get parents excited about sending their children to the Reading Camp. Some assume that sending their children would be a waste of time, and would rather have their help around the home, such as by collecting firewood, fetching water and caring for the family animals.

Henderina believes that the primary reason for this is the low awareness among parents on the great impact that being allowed to learn while playing with their friends can have on their children. Because of this, she has taken it as part of her role as community volunteer to visit every family with children in her community, to discuss the importance of educating their children and to encourage the parents to send their children to the Reading Camp.

Author Yasintha working with kids who benefit from sponsorship programs like Reading Camps.
Author Yasintha working with kids who benefit from sponsorship programs like Reading Camps.

Her efforts bear fruit as more and more children come to her Reading Camp as she meets with more and more parents. Sometimes, parents even stay to participate in the activities themselves. “With this positive progress, I strongly believe that the children in my community can read like those in the city and can reach whatever dreams they may have. This can start here, from this Reading Camp,” she proudly stated.

Mobilizing community members to help build our programs is an integral part of sponsorship. We provide training and tools that enable children, parents, teachers and local partners like Henderina to work together to achieve common goals. Consider sharing this story with a friend or family member, to show how you’ve helped bring the joy of reading to children in the Philippines, as one of our valued sponsors! Thank you!

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

Nana Rouwaida’s Dreams

Author Portrait_Boubacar Abdoulkader, Education Supervisor
Boubacar Abdoulkader

Education Supervisor

Save the Children in Niger

September 16, 2017

In Tchadoua, a community in grassy flatlands in the southeastern part of Niger, the store houses are full of old millet stalks, a sign that the harvest has not met expectations this year. In this area, people live off agriculture – farming, herding and trading at a small scale. This lifestyle is often difficult as unpredictable weather patterns like drought, floods, or even locust attacks, cause unexpected challenges and hinder successful harvests. As a result, children are often involved in ensuring the family’s survival, expected to assist in bringing in an income rather than attending school.

Today it is sunny and windy, although it’s difficult to see with all the dust blowing in the air from the sandy ground in this area.

The school in Tchadoua is comprised of 5 small classrooms, among which one is made of concrete, two made of clay and the other two are simple sheds made of millet stalks and straw. The walls are bare and there are very few, if any, teaching materials to be seen.

Teachers here are very kind, they welcome us with cheers and friendly smiles. They are all very young, and most of them have not received any training on how to teach. Education in Niger is jeopardized by this, leading to a poor quality of education in schools and a very low level of pupils, as students have trouble staying engaged in lessons. One student out of ten in grade 4 can read the alphabet here.

Nana Rouwaida and friends Aicha and Fatchima after playing a round of chalele, a game involving dancing, clapping and signing.
Nana Rouwaida and friends Aicha and Fatchima after playing a round of chalele, a game involving dancing, clapping and signing.

Such is the setting where Save the Children now implements its sponsorship program. Among the children struggling to learn in Tchadoua is 11-year-old Nana Rouwaida, twelfth child born of a family of thirteen. She is always joyful and smiling. Neither her struggles in school or the difficulties of her family’s farming lifestyle prevented her from developing the dream to become a nurse one day.

This dream become even stronger when she was sponsored by Helen, her new friend in the United States, who helps support sponsorship programs in her community and also supports Nana Rouwaida through their letter writing, always encouraging her to work hard in school.

“I am proud to receive a letter from my sponsor because anytime I get a reply to my letter I feel important. I also like the stickers and coloring books, stickers to play with and coloring books to see things new for me.”

Through sponsorship programs, she also enjoys going to Reading Camp, where students come together for group lessons with a teacher from the community outside of their regular classes at school. Through sponsorship, teachers receive books to support storytelling and literacy building skills with their students in the Reading Camp, as well as are trained by sponsorship experts on how to use child-centered and child-friendly interactive teaching styles that keep children engaged and excited to learn.

In her free time, Nana Rouwaida also likes helping her mother around the house, for example grinding millet for their meals, sweeping or making the fire for cooking. With her friends she enjoys playing their favorite game, called chalele, involving dancing, clapping and singing traditional songs, generally played by girls. She is also very fond of goats and takes care of them to help her father.

She says what she cherishes most is the time spent on Wednesday afternoons and Saturdays, when she goes to the fields to collect grass for the goats. “I like goats because they are easy to breed,” she shares with pride.

Nana Rouwaida shares her dream for the future.
Nana Rouwaida shares her dream for the future.

Nana Rouwaida is supported in her dream of becoming a nurse by her father, Illa, who also shares the same vision as his daughter. Despite being sixty years old, he is among the few parents from their village who strongly supports young girls’ education, rather than expecting them to only help care for the family. “I understand that education is the key to development and I want my daughter Nana Rouwaida to become a nurse one day, in order to help herself and help other people around her.”

Nana Rouwaida’s teacher, Harouna Siradji, shares that the sponsorship program has already made a positive change in Nana Rouwaida’s life, after running programs for just one year in Tchadoua. “She is now very active in class, [and] her handwriting improves thanks to the Reading Camp.”

For the children in Tchadoua, there is a long way to go. However, things are already beginning to change, and Nana Rouwaida knows that with her sponsor Helen by her side, nothing can stop her.

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

From the Philippines, With Love

The following blog first appeared on The Huffington Post.

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I met with amazing students at an elementary school in Tacloban, which suffered extensive damage during Typhoon Haiyan. Classes are now conducted in tents adorned with the children’s artwork. Photo credit: David Wardell for Save the Children
I met with amazing students at an elementary school in Tacloban, which suffered extensive damage during Typhoon Haiyan. Classes are now conducted in tents adorned with the children’s artwork. Photo credit: David Wardell for Save the Children

Love. If there is a single word that best describes what I witnessed during my visit to the Philippines last week, then that’s it. Love of family. Love of community. Love of people. Love of life.

 

So what better day than Valentine’s Day to celebrate the dedication, perseverance and, of course, love between the communities, families and children in the parts of the country that were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan? I would also like to mention a specific passion that came up over

Spreading the Love of Reading Beyond School Walls

Some of my favorite childhood memories involve curling up with a good book and embarking on a world of adventures unfolding on each page. But for 250 million children around the world who cannot read or write, getting lost in a story is a pleasure they may never get to experience.

 

For me, it’s hard to imagine myself flipping through a book and only seeing pages full of symbols, unaware of their meaning or the stories they tell. But for more than a third of all primary-school age children around the world, that’s a reality they face every day. And going to school is not enough to guarantee learning.

 

Too many children around the world are at risk of never learning to read or read well, whether they attend school or not. Children like 10-year-old Sita from Nepal. Sita lives in Budhathok village, a remote farming community, where the nearest market is 90 minutes by car (if you’re lucky to have a car), families are struggling to make ends meet, and books and time for reading are a luxury they often can’t afford.

 

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Sita, 10, reads at home with books borrowed from Save the Children’s mobile library in her village in rural Nepal. Save the Children’s new literacy report proves that practice outside the classroom is the key to learning to read, especially among girls, children living in poverty and those with few books or readers at home. Photo by Sanjana Shrestha.

 

Knowing the importance of practicing reading at home, Save the Children brought

Kids from around the World Tell Us Why They Love to Read

Ajla

Ajla Grozdanic, Manager, Marketing and Communications, U.S. Programs

Washington, D.C.

February 14, 2013


From Valentine’s Day to World Read
Aloud Day on March 6, this time of year is all about spreading the love—love of
reading, that is. Teaching our kids to become skilled readers early on is key
to ensuring their success in school and life. This is as true in America as it
is in Nepal, Mali or any other country for that matter. Why? Because education
is one of the most viable pathways out of poverty.

That’s why Save the Children,
through our early childhood education and school-based programs, strives to
help disadvantaged children around the world, including right here in the
United States, develop and grow as readers. The results speak for themselves! In
America alone, 69 percent of participants in our literacy programs showed
significant improvements in overall reading ability and the number of those
reading at or above grade level more than doubled by the end of the school
year.  

Here, some of our once strugglingreaders from
the United States and Nepal tell us how their newfound love of the written word
turned them into young bookworms. 

 

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“I love reading because you can learn many things in a book. You can even learn how to build a hamster home!” –Kori, 7, Point Pleasant, WV

 

 

 

Umesh_Nepal

 

“When I read, my grades will be better. Being able to read helps you read stories. When you can read, you can become anything you want. I like Nepali stories. My Nepali textbook has many stories and poems. My favorite poem is ‘such a pretty sun, such a pretty shadow, the two play together in the ground.’ I think this poem is very nice.” –Umesh, 3rd grader, Nepal

 

 

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“I love to read because the pictures and stories help me to imagine that I am somewhere else!” –Nevaeh, 7, Landers, CA  

 

 

 

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 “I like to read because there are new adventures all the time. Fiction is my favorite, because you can get inside the adventure.” –Brandon, 11, Lobelville, TN

 

 

 

Anita_Nepal“I think reading will make me smart. My father
brought a book for me from Qatar. The storybook is in two languages, Arabic and
Nepali. It’s about a teacher who teaches Arabic. My father reads the story to
me.” –Anita, 1st grader, Nepal  

 

 

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“The more I read, the faster and better I can read. It helps me to get better grades.” –Orlando, 9, Shaw, MS

 

 

 

 

Bijay_Nepal

 “I
like reading because when I grow up I want to become an engineer or a teacher.
My favorite book is DhungakoKhichadi
(Stone Porridge). I like stories about old men and women.” –Bijay, 3rd grader,
Nepal 

 

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“Because my mama likes to read!” –Kayla, 8, Shaw, MS

 

 

 

 

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“Reading lets me travel to awesome places in my imagination. That’s why I like to read.”—Nyla, 9, Foxworth, MS

 

 

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“Reading is good for your mind.” –Dontavious, 9, Columbia, MS

 

 

 

 

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“I love reading because it takes my mind to a different world.” –Macie, 10, Williston, SC

 

 

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“I love to read because it helps me learn.” –Hayden, 8, Maury City, TN

 


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 “Reading can take you on exciting adventures.” –A.J., 8, Maury City, TN

 

 

 

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“I want to be a veterinarian and reading is helping make my dreams come true! I already work at the zoo and reading has helped give me the knowledge I need to do my job well.” –Dedra, 16, Lobelville, TN (former student in Save the Children’s U.S. school-based program)

 

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“I love reading, because if I read a book and I see the movie, for instance, Harry Potter, I can compare them. They usually leave out details and skip scenes in movies. Books have more details.” –Lauren, 11, Morongo Valley, CA

 

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“I love to read books because it’s the only fun thing I can do.” –Patrick, 10, Morongo Valley, CA

 

 

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“I read because Nana says I got to. It is fun and I learn my ABC’s from books.” –Emilee, 3, Jackson, KY

 

 

 

 

All photos taken by Save the Children staff. 

Literacy Boost: The Power of a Teacher!

Zerihun GultieZerihun Gultie, Sponsorship Manager

West Showa, Ethiopia

October 5, 2012

In 2009 a study was conducted to measure the reading skills of children in the South West and West Showa zones of Ethiopia. The results were shocking, a huge percentage of 3rd grade children were unable to read a single word, despite schools, trained teachers and community support. It was then that Save the Children came up with an innovative concept called Literacy Boost to create a culture of reading, both inside and outside the classroom. 

In April of this year I visited three schools which have benefited from Literacy Boost. I was
stunned by the positive change. Children in the 2nd and 3rd grades were reading their textbooks and were highly engaged – almost all were able to read an average of 40 or more words per minute.

There I met Mitke Kuma, a vibrant 2nd grade teacher. She is a multi-disciplinary teacher, teaching 6 lessons a day on all subject matters. She lives several miles from the school and walks almost three hours each day to and from work. When her shift starts in the morning, she often sets off walking in the dark in order to be ready to start teaching at 8am. On Mondays, she arrives an hour early or extends her afternoon shift to help students in the library as part of her commitment to the Literacy Boost program. Mitke in action

Mitke has participated in several Save the Children trainings. She is a strong supporter of Literacy Boost and is constantly developing aids to help her students read. She has grouped them into three reading levels with materials according to their skill, and has facilitated a reading buddies program where younger children are paired with older students who help them with their reading. According to Mitke, the Literacy Boost trainings have equipped teachers with effective and necessary teaching skills.

Mitke is committed to helping the children at her school and hopes to move closer, “If my home were closer to school, Icould have more time to help students improve their literacy level,” she
shares. Her dream is to improve her educational qualification to a PhD.

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to find out more.

Keeping the American Dream Alive for Thousands of Children

Ajla

Ajla Grozdanic, Manager, Marketing and Communications, U.S. Programs

Washington, D.C.

February 15, 2012


Meet Alicia, Jurnie and Savannah, three bright-eyed, all-American girls daydreaming of what they’ll grow up to be some day. Alicia, 11, from New Mexico, is the oldest of the three. She aspires to own a home and a business one day. Jurnie is an 8-year-old from Nevada who loves to care for people and wants to become a nurse when she grows up. Savannah, also 8, lives in Kentucky. She adores animals and dreams of becoming a vet. Living thousands of miles apart, these girls may never cross paths, but their road to success has one detrimental obstacle in common: poverty.

Usp blog ss of doc

All three are from dwindling small towns in rural America, where, according to the latest Census report, one child out of four lives below the poverty line. Alicia is from a sleepy, poverty-stricken village, which counts a small convenience store among its only sources of income. Jurnie lives with her grandfather and younger sister in a low-income community of 800 some residents on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. And in Savannah’s remote hometown more than a third of the population, including her own family, is poor.

The number of Americans living in poverty jumped to historic highs. Bearing the brunt of this crisis are 16 million kids, the highest number since the War on Poverty began in the early 1960s. This means that more families than ever are scrambling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. For children like Alicia, Jurnie and Savannah, growing up poor in America means having your dreams, however humble, stolen from you.

Like most children living in poverty, the three girls are falling behind educationally. When she started fifth grade, Alicia was reading at the level of a second-grader. Jurnie comes from a financially struggling, unstable home environment and often has to endure long stretches of time without seeing her parents. This lack of stability and support has led to frequently missed school days and poor performance in class. While eager to learn, Savannah scored poorly on reading assessment tests and her school didn’t have the resources to provide her the extra help she needed to work through the challenges and succeed.

Kids who aren't learning and advancing in school are likely to remain in poverty as adults. To protect America’s future and security in the face of historic childhood poverty rates, we must invest in our children. Save the Children works to break the cycle of poverty through education and health programs designed to help kids in some of the poorest parts of the country overcome barriers that stand in the way of their dreams.

We helped Alicia, Jurnie, Savannah and thousands of other children who know all too well what it means to go without. After going through our education support programs, all three are now able to read at grade level and continue to make great strides toward academic and future success.

Learn more about child poverty in the United States and what Save the Children’s school-based programs are doing to help.

Photos courtesy Save the Children

Pumpkins and Princes

Deergh  Deergha Narayan Shrestha, Senior Program Coordinator for Education, Save the Children Nepal

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kathmandu, Nepal


Save the Children's Literacy Boost program aims to support young readers through fun activities. It is already underway in more than 10 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. As part of National Children's Book Week (May 2 to 7), we asked a few children enrolled in Literacy Boost to tell us about their favorite books. Here is what Himal, age 8, from Nepal told to Save the Children's Deergha Shrestha:

My favorite story is called "The Tale of Master Pumpkin."  Most of the kids from school and the village like it too. I really love the pictures, like the one where Pharsi walks through the jungle.  

In the story, Pharsi Badahu, or Pumpkin, is the son of poor Farsi parents. Right after he was born, they took one look at his ugly face and kicked him out of their home. Pharsi walked away and into the jungle.

Himal

One day on his journey, he played a game to marry a princess and he won! He married the beautiful princess. She wasn't happy with him but she had to accept him anyway.

After several days, both of them came home. They saw a beautiful flower in a tall tree. Pharshia Bahadu climbed up the tree to pick the flower, but he fell down and broke into pieces.

He looked like a smashed pumpkin. The princess got scared. And then a handsome prince arose from the pumpkin. They went home and lived happily ever after. I always like getting to the end when the pumpkin turns into a handsome prince.