Schools screeched to an abrupt halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, taking the world by surprise and leaving little time for making quality learning material available for early grade children. Early grades are formative years for language and numeracy skills. Room to Read, an international NGO working in the field of education, works specifically on comprehensive literacy skills of children.
On the occasion of Independence Day, Room to Read (RtR) India started the second edition of its Reading Campaign, India Gets Reading, to emphasize the need for freedom from illiteracy. The campaign will continue till International Literacy Day on September 8. Last year in 2019, the first Reading Campaign got an overwhelming response with more than 10 lakh children participating across ten states of India.
Accessibility of quality e-learning and reading material
The campaign is targeted at primary school children and associated stake holders to ensure children get reading material in abundance. As part of the reading campaign, a series of consultations is planned with various stake holders culminating in webinars at the national level with policy makers. The webinars aim to find solutions to the issues regarding the accessibility of quality e-learning and reading material during the pandemic. The New Education Policy has been released recently to give a new direction to the education pedagogy that talks about the importance of e-learning.
promising way to resolve learning crisis
As articulated in the National Education Policy 2020, we are witnessing a learning crisis across the country with a large proportion of our elementary school children lacking in the ability to read and comprehend basic text. The COVID 19 pandemic has further aggravated the situation as schools are closed since March leading to unavailability of learning material and many children have lost touch with education; many others are faced with the risk of dropping out of school.
To ensure that children don’t drop out, there are a string of activities planned in nine states of India to focus on creating an environment for developing reading skills and make quality reading material available. Room to Read is working closely with education departments of various states during this campaign. Room to Read (RtR) partnered with governments to use government web portals, WhatsApp & Telegram Groups, social media, television channels, community radio, Interactive Voice Recording over telephone and even an online library to reach our beneficiaries located in program areas of Room to Read.
Sourav Banerjee, country Director of Room to Read an international expert in the field of education, says, ”The India Gets Reading campaign is to emphasize the need for universal foundational literacy and build a culture of reading in schools and communities. Books are our windows to the world outside and if we can get children hooked to good quality learning material, we will be able to set them on a path of continuous learning. In the current COVID-19 scenario, reading can happen at home, both online and offline, and it is a key activity that can keep children connected to learning even while schools are closed”.
During this campaign period, we expect children to read by themselves, along with their parents and grandparents, and Room to Read with government will make available a variety of books and reading materials through online platforms and social media.
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