Room to Read in partnership with the Ministry of Education has developed learning material for approximately 665,000 lower primary schoolchildren in Sri Lanka. These textbooks aim to support children in vulnerable communities who have no access to the television or internet in order to continue their education undisputedly as the country gradually reopens for activity following the Covid-19 lockdown.
These books comprise activities for mandatory subjects such as mathematics and native languages. The initiative is a joint partnership with other organisations such as UNICEF Sri Lanka, the National Institute of Education Sri Lanka (NIE), and Australia in Sri Lanka and Maldives (Australian High Commission).
Speaking on this initiative, Room to Read Sri Lanka Country Director Shevanthi Jayasuriya told The Morning Brunch that it is imperative that education continues amongst all children during school closures. “This initiative will ensure children in vulnerable communities who do not have access to the internet receive sufficient guidance through the learning material prepared in order to continue their education uninterrupted during a crisis period. Room to Read is proud to be a contributor,” she said.
Room to Read is a global non-profit organisation founded in 2000 with the belief that world change starts with educated children. It envisions a world in which all children can pursue quality, holistic education that enables them to reach their fullest potential. Room to Read conducts its programmes at two critical stages of learning. One programme is for early primary education for children to learn how to read and write with comprehension and to instill a habit of reading, while the second is to support girls complete secondary school with the relevant life skills to succeed in school and beyond.
In Sri Lanka, Room to Read began its journey in 2005 followed by the devastating tsunami and has transformed over a million children’s lives thus far. Globally, the organisation supports over 18 million children to receive a quality education. Since the beginning, Room to Read Sri Lanka has worked together with the Ministry of Education to conduct its programmes. Currently, it is working in the North Central, Central, and Uva Provinces. Room to Read’s innovative Reading Development Programme ensures that children in primary schools gain reading development holistically, have libraries filled with books in local languages, as well as teachers and librarians are trained on how to engage a classroom of eager, young learners.
When Covid-19 struck Sri Lanka and schools began to close, while involving themselves in providing support for students to receive essential food and medical supplies, Room to Read also came up with swift contingency measures to ensure education endures and remains undisrupted among its programme participants and students across the country. Thus, Room to Read connected with students via several platforms.
Apart from collaborating with the Ministry of Education to develop the textbooks, they also converted their storybooks into read aloud videos that are currently posted on their local Facebook and Instagram accounts to enable children islandwide to continue reading at home and develop a habit of reading. Furthermore, a Literacy Cloud was developed for students in primary grades with nearly 200 unique titles that are available to read online. Room to Read partnered with Sirasa and Shakthi FM for a radio programme to reach out to students and parents across the country with literacy instruction tips to improve learning at home. Their Facebook accounts also posted the read aloud videos prepared by Room to Read.
When asked about the other support extended by the Room to Read team for Sri Lankan students, we were told their local mentors keep in touch with their participants every week over the phone to provide essential academic, social, and psychological support during a time of crisis.
For more information, visit www.roomtoread.org.