Room to Read is committed to rebuilding children's lives through education, an effort which will include supporting schools, teachers, and students, so they can return to their normal routines and continue learning. Room to Reads initial 36 month post-earthquake recovery plan will focus immediate recovery efforts in Nuwakot, a district whose schools and communities have been most severely impacted. Room to Reads Nepal team will work closely with the Ministry of Education to ensure that children are able to continue their education with the learning resources they need to succeed.
Room to Read will implement a two phase intervention to get children in Nuwakot back into safe learning environments with high quality learning materials and trained teachers in order for them to become engaged, independent readers. This commitment includes Phase 1 (Post-Earthquake Construction and Repair of Nuwakot Schools), and Phase 2 (Implementation of Room to Reads Literacy Program).
1) Post-Earthquake Construction and Repair of Nuwakot Schools and Library Restoration
Room to Reads Nepal team has completed their assessment of buildings across 11 regions in Nepal. Within the 395 schools they surveyed, 873 classrooms were destroyed, 735 rooms had major damage and 1,049 had minor damage. They are focused on rebuilding classrooms in Nuwakot in order to make schools fully operational there. Room to Read will specifically focus their efforts on 55-65 schools, constructing 275-325 classrooms and repairing an additional 400-450 classrooms. Infrastructure work on these schools will be done in two waves, and will include library restoration activities as needed for existing Room to Read libraries in the schools.
Room to Read will utilize its standard model for infrastructure projects of involving community members and other key stakeholders to gather information and promote ownership of the process, which allows for engagement in their work and sustainability of the school once their support has ended. However, due to the significant loss of property to most of these families, Room to Read will significantly alter one of their core operating principles for this project: they will not request any material support from the community to complete projects, but will continue to include them in the process as appropriate.
Room to Read will conduct three distinct trainings for the construction/renovation activities: (a) they will train School Construction Committee (SCC) members on project management, financial management, and construction monitoring skills, (b) they will train skilled masons on how to read their building designs, the material specifications they mandate, and their expectations about construction techniques and work quality, and (c) they will train SCC members on building maintenance.
2) Implementation of Room to Reads Literacy Program
Room to Read will implement their holistic Literacy Program in most of the schools that are being rebuilt. The Literacy Program concentrates literacy learning in primary school, because once a child reaches 3rd grade without basic literacy skills, it is virtually impossible for the child to catch up. Acquiring basic literacy skills means that a child develops both the skills and the habit of reading, which together contribute to lifelong learning. Room to Reads goal is to enhance, not replace, government literacy programs. They begin by talking with the government about their current literacy initiatives and then analyzing how they can enhance the existing curriculum. A strong government alliance in all aspects of their work supports the sustainability of their program and strengthens possibilities for wide-scale government adoption. Room to Read works to ensure all children have the time, space, and materials they need to practice and develop the habit of reading. This includes:
- Establishing safe and child-friendly learning environments this includes establishing dedicated library spaces where students can have fun, positive interactions with books (and establishing processes such as book checkout and book leveling). They will also help procure child-sized furniture and work with the school to arrange learning materials so students can easily access them and practice reading on their own.
- Providing quality reading materials at age-appropriate levels - Room to Reads Literacy Program provides the libraries with local language materials that can be enjoyed by readers at various levels and feature a diverse range of topics designed to capture childrens imaginations, making reading fun. Their goal is to inspire children to read, expand their minds, and develop a lifelong love for reading and learning.
- Training teachers in reading and writing instruction and library management and reading activities - Room to Reads Literacy Program will provide early grade teachers with professional development and in-class coaching to make sure they have the knowledge and tools to successfully support their students. The phonics-based instructional design that they provide helps children learn to decode sounds and words in a logical sequence and build confidence in their budding skills. They also provide educators with training on how to effectively manage a library and conduct activities that encourage students to read independently. Room to Reads local staff regularly monitor the library environment and provide feedback, so communities know how to sustain a high-functioning library long after their support ends.
Well established relationships with the Ministry of Education, access to local builders and building materials and over 100 Room to Read local staff in Nepal, including engineers, literacy coaches and program trainers, all support the feasibility of completing the project in a timely and cost-efficient manner.
1) 1) Post-Earthquake Construction and Repair of Nuwakot Schools
November 2015: Begin first wave of construction/repairs in Nuwakot schools (about 35 schools)
November 2016: Begin second wave of construction/repairs in Nuwakot schools (about 20 schools)
March 2017: Complete first wave of construction/repairs in Nuwakot schools (about 35 schools constructed/repaired).
March 2018: Complete second wave of construction/repairs in Nuwakot schools (about 20 schools constructed/repaired). About 1,300-1,800 people trained during entire construction process.
2) 2) Implementation of Room to Reads Literacy Program
April 2017: Room to Read Literacy Program kicked off in first wave of re-built schools (about 35 schools)
April 2018: Room to Read Literacy Program kicked off in second wave of re-built schools (about 20 schools).
By November 2018: Literacy program implemented in 55 schools in Nuwakot. About 165-200 teachers trained in the Literacy Program. About 20,000 primary school children benefiting from the commitment.
Literacy remains among the most neglected of all education goals, with UNESCO reporting about 794 million illiterate adults, and 123 million illiterate youths in the world today. While access to primary education has improved over the past decade due to a commitment made by the United Nations to achieve universal primary education by 2015, educational quality is often still lacking, and children are still not learning. Since 2001, the size of the worlds illiterate population has decreased only modestly and has actually increased in many low-income countries. This trend underscores the need for primary schools in the low-income world to enhance their efforts to improve educational access and quality, and support early literacy learning.
Nepal, which was Room to Reads first country of operation, was devastated by an earthquake on April 25th, 2015. Lack of materials, run down and overcrowded schools, and gender inequality have long been issues within Nepal's education system. The earthquake that struck the Central and Western regions of Nepal, followed by another substantial earthquake on May 12th, affected 39 districts out of 75, completely destroying approximately 32,000 classrooms and damaging more than 15,000 additional classrooms. Nuwakot, one of the districts where Room to Read currently works, is among the worst impacted, with massive destruction to the schools throughout the district. The earthquake devastated communities that were already struggling economically. Many of the school buildings still standing are being used as shelters by displaced populations, and Temporary Learning Centers (TLCs) have been set up by the government to get children back into school.
Immediately following the earthquake, Room to Read engaged in short-term recovery efforts in order to help meet the immediate needs of the people of Nepal (such as psychosocial support for teachers and students, teacher training, provision of learning materials and books, as well as material support for Girls Education Program participants). After critical emergency relief has been provided after natural disasters, it is just as important to focus efforts on repairing and reviving the communities and lives of the impacted areas.