‘The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows’ – Sydney J. Harris.
This inspirational saying by an American Journalist unveils the goal of education. In the world, children have a right to receive an education. Although the right is enjoyed by many, there is a segment of this society which is deprived of this right. There are many NGOs in the world which address this major issue, but unfortunately, some of them have failed to meet the educational requirements due to their inefficiency. They still fail to open new windows for poor children in providing them with quality education. In a backdrop of this nature“Room to Read”, an international non-profit organization has taken initiatives to improve literacy and gender equality in education in the developing world. Besides they ensure that these children are served with ‘quality education’. Although the education is given, the doubt of receiving a quality education in schools is a matter to be concerned with. Fortunately, “Room to Read” has been able to break these barriers of learning and education by granting practical literary programmes around many parts of the country.
The goal of this programme is to create ‘life-long independent readers’. In advance, the literacy programme ’Reading with comprehension’ has already made strategies to develop reading skills and the habit of reading among children at schools, since many of the children in Sri Lanka find it difficult or are even unable to comprehend texts in their examinations. This integrated programme provides facilities to the partner schools in achieving the holistic goal. For example,“Room to Read” supports educators with teacher training and coaching in literacy instruction and library management. They distribute reading material to children to make reading fun and interesting. Particularly, the programme creates supportive environments for children by establishing libraries and renovating school infrastructure. Further, the aforementioned classroom corner libraries standout from that of ordinary libraries, for that they are more colourful and alluring.
"They distribute reading materialto children to make reading fun and interesting. Particularly, the programme creates supportive environments for children by establishing libraries and renovating school infrastructure"
The organization which had been globally operating is also now working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education in Sri Lanka as the only NGO that is allowed to work inside the schools. The significance of these friendly libraries is a supporting hand in teaching reading as well as to get children into the habit of reading. The fictional reading material is in both Sinhala and Tamil. The Teaching reading at classroom level is categorised into two according to the age of the children. Reading skill is aimed at grade 1-2 students, whereas the habit of reading is focused upon to improve from grade 1-5 students. In fact these books are colourful and have the ability to win the hearts of children. There is also the necessity of teachers’ capacity to put these methods into practices; therefore they have field staff monitors assisting in the classrooms. What is mostly practical is that students with reading difficulties and below average students are provided with assistance in reading.
Room to Read started publishing story books in Sinhala and Tamil from 2006 onward. The objective was to instil a habit of reading among primary children by producing books in local languages where they have a better chance of learning to read with comprehension while understanding the local culture.
With the recent research on education outcomes, the educators have disclosed that students should start reading informational texts in subjects from the earliest grades. Did you ever think how wonderful it would be to see your children reading a subject related textbook? They would say in earlier grades that science is their favourite subject. You’ll wonder that is cumbersome, but fortunately it is not. Room to Read has given solutions to improve the habit of reading, publishing these non-fiction books consisting of realistic information based stories presented with creativity to retain interest.
These non –fiction books prepare a good foundation to students for their later grades. Room to Read non-fiction books are aimed at providing knowledge and facts in the form of creative stories. A fact to highlight is that Sri Lanka is proud to be the first country among other Room to Read countries to launch this initiative.. These are fun, entertaining and visually engaging. This creative approach to improve subject knowledge among students will always make children improve the habit of “reading when it says reading maketh a full man”,as true address to the issue in current society of digital media.
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