The joy and importance of education: Literacy Boost in India

By Tiatemjen Jamir, World Vision India

On World Literacy Day, we're looking at our Literacy Boost programme in India that's giving children like Sakhi a helping hand at school...

“Sakhi has shown considerable progress in her reading skills since she joined the reading club,” says Pooja, the reading club facilitator in Aparajita, India.

It’s a warm winter’s day when I visit, and children are sitting in a circle surrounded by a collection of colourful charts they’ve made during their time at the reading club.

Reading clubs are an integral part of the Literacy Boost programme for young learners; a place children can attend after school and at weekends to build on the literacy skills they learn at school. The clubs are facilitated by trained community volunteers, like Pooja, who lead the children through fun activities like songs, games, arts and crafts - all of which focus on building reading skills.

“We were taught to use a variety of activities to make learning fun for children during the training conducted by World Vision,” says Pooja. “The results have been wonderful as children are now more eager to learn.”

Sakhi in her reading corner at home

“I like reading the most,” says eight-year-old, Sakhi. “I also like the make-and-take activity where we are asked to draw or write something from what we learned at the reading club that we take home and store in our reading corners.”

“World Vision has taught us how to be involved in our child’s education even at home,” says Babu, Sakhi’s father. “When Sakhi returns from school we ask her about her day in school and everything she learnt to ensure she understands what is being taught.”

“I studied until the eighth grade so I help her read and study at home,” says Babu. “A few months ago Sakhi could barely even recognise the alphabet. Today, she is able to comfortably read full sentences from books.”

“We have 132 students in this school,” says Bal Krishna, Sakhi’s teacher. “However, we have only 50% attendance on average. Parents here don’t see the importance of sending their children to school.”

Sakhi's father Babu helps her to read

According to Bal, Literacy Boost builds a child’s interest in learning to read and ensures that parents understand why regular school attendance is important, through parental awareness sessions. Of the children who do attend school regularly 60 are part of the Literacy Boost programme and also participate in the reading clubs.

“Just a few months ago Sakhi could neither read nor write,” Bal continues. “She was shy and didn’t participate in class activities. However, due to the Literacy Boost programme, organised by World Vision, she is now able to read and actively participate in class.”

Pooja, the reading club facilitator, agrees that Literacy Boost helps motivate children to learn to read. “There are days the reading club continues beyond the usual two hour sessions,” she says. “Even then, the children are happy to stay and continue learning. The various activities keep the children interested, which makes learning quick and easy.”

Today, Sakhi and 1,450 other children across four communities are members of the 66 reading clubs World Vision India has set up as a pilot. The numbers continue to grow as more and more children and parents are exposed to the joy and importance of education. Over the course of last year, World Vision conducted 728 reading awareness workshops with about 2,500 parents and caregivers. World Vision continues to pilot Literacy Boost in four communities in Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand states, increasing access to education and improving young student’s reading and comprehension skills. To find out how you can help improve a child’s life in India through our child sponsorship programme, click here»

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