USAID Read Liberia and the Ministry of Education on Friday, March 13, 2020, kicked off a reading demonstration program.
However, the program has come to a halt due to the outbreak of the coronavirus in the world and Liberia .
The program was to mark International Reading Month, an effort to promote reading, especially for children in kindergarten through second grade.
The program held recently at Lango Lippaye School in Kakata, Margibi County broght together over two hundred people.
The event featured testimonies from parents and teachers about the impact of the Read Liberia program.
Pupils from first-and second grades showcased their reading, spelling, and comprehension skills.
The participating schools included: Save the Children All- Girls School, E. J. Yancy, KRTTI Demonstration School, Reverend Perry S. Togbah School, Gwee Memorial Public School and Cole Town Public School.
Read Liberia is a five-year Ministry of Education program with funding and technical support from USAID and implemented by RTI International.
The aim is to support the Liberian government’s efforts to improve early childhood reading in public schools.
Read Liberia works with 640 schools in six counties, Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Bong, Nimba and Lofa counties.
Since its inception in September 2017, the program has trained a little over 1,300 teachers and distributed 108,608 teaching and reading books.
The program provides supplemental readers to guide the teachers in teaching reading and support students reading at home with their families.
The program also increase early childhood school enrollment, promote reading at home and develop reading spaces in their targeted counties.
A grand father Victoria Mulbah, who has two grandsons at KRTTI Demonstration School in Kakata town, Margibi County, lauded Read Liberia for helping her grandsons develop love for reading.
“My grandsons are really making me proud,’’ she said.
Victoria also said “I want to thank you for teaching them to read. I make them read every evening. Thank you also for the books.’’
Another parent Jartu Dunnor has three children at Save the Children All-Girls School.
Jartu said she missed out on her education, so she pushes her children so they can learn to read and become productive citizens in the future.
She also said Read Liberia program motivated her to get involved in the School’s Parent Teachers Association.
“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.’’ Dunnor noted.
During the program, the students impressed the gathering with their understanding of reading passages, pronunciation skills and identifying words from a series of sentences.
Dr. Teresiah Wambui Gathenya, Senior Education Advisor at USAID Liberia, praised the children for their performances.
He thanked the Ministry of Education for supporting early childhood reading in Liberia.
She said a good reading foundation will prepare students to read science, math and other subjects for life.
“This is the 21st Century, if you can’t read when everything is turning electronic, you will be left behind,’’ she said.
Giving more realistic examples she said “In an era where we have money coming through mobile phones, if you can’t read, somebody will take your money.
If you can’t read, you will have to depend on someone to read the ATM for you and you might lose all your money. Everything depends on reading.’’ she concluded.
Also speaking, the Coordinator of Parents Teachers Association (PTA) at the Ministry of Education,Michael Kharim thanked USAID Liberia for supporting early childhood reading in Liberia.
He lauded parents and teachers for embracing the program saying the reading skills demonstrated by the kids is a testament to teachers’ and parents’ commitment to support early reading for kids.
As part of the program, Read Liberia and the Ministry of Education engaged local businesses to support the program by donating refreshments and prizes for the students, teachers and parents.
Some of the students who participated in the reading demonstration said the prizes motivated them to continue reading.
Elijah Perry, a first grader at E.J. Yancy School, thanked his teachers for helping improve his reading skills
“I love to read because I know it will help me in the future,’’ Elijah said.
Little Perry and Johnson Harris, also of E.J. Yancy School also topped the reading demonstration exercise.
Johnson, a second grader, said he likes to read because he wants to become a doctor and lauded Read Liberia for the program.
Massa Morris, a first grader at Gwee Memorial school said she was proud to participate in the reading demonstration.
“I feel really good about participating in the program,’’ she said.
The reading demonstrations for five other counties will resume at the end of the coronavirus epidemic.
Several business supported the academy excellence reading program in Kakata, margibi County. They include;RAMI & Rocky Business Center, Musa Dolo Provision Shop, United Commodities Inc., Lofa Mineral Water Company, Uncle J. Business Center, Sapoe Entertainment Center, Mamadu B. Diallo Business Center, New Creation Business Center and Aqua Trust Mineral Water Company.