In 2017, World Bank released a report and warned the world of a global 'learning crisis'. The report focused on how children in low and middle-income countries were at a disadvantage in terms of opportunities and wages in later life because their primary and secondary schools were not educating them to succeed in life. The report highlighted how a middle school student faced difficulty in reading texts which included sentences in the local language.
The report had also suggested that one of the prime reasons for the learning crisis is the widespread socio-economic divide as well as teacher's ineptitude in teaching.
World Bank, in the same report, went on to suggest certain changes which could be brought about in the education system to address the 'learning crisis'. These suggested changes included a well-designed student assessment to measure the health of the education system, setting priorities for their own practice and innovation in education, and modifying the system in order to support learning.
Community Action To Support Learning Among School Children
David Evans, who is a Lead Economist in the Chief Economist's Office for the Africa Region of the World Bank, in an article, emphasized that to improve functional literacy among school children, community action is as important as improving teacher's training.
What does he mean by community action? Community action can mean something as simple as creating 'reading awareness'. In Rwanda, a local NGO conducted community based reading awareness program which included running reading clubs, organizing reading festivals etc. Through a donor program age-appropriate books were sourced for the children. The program improved reading skills of children considerably.
Encouraging children to read storybooks is one way that has been advocated by education experts time and again as a way to help children learn language and reading skills.
Similar such programs have been introduced in India. Delhi Government launched 'Mission Buniyaad' in February 2018. Under the programme which ran from April to June for class 3 to 5 in MCD schools and class 6 to 9 in government schools, children underwent a reading level assessment based on which they were enrolled in specialised classes.
In Ganjam District in Odisha, district officials donated books to schools, this January, to popularise library movement in the state.
A Delhi-based NGO, Sarvahitey, is opening libraries including those aimed specifically for children across India to revive the reading culture and aide students in rural areas where reading material is not easily accessible.
Science Backs Reading As A Way To Get Smarter
Science says that reading improves 'Theory of Mind'. 'Theory of Mind' is a person's ability to understand another person's knowledge, beliefs, emotions, and intentions and using that understanding to navigate social situations. It essentially attributes to empathy.
Reading, specially fiction, also supercharges brain and sharpens memory through imagination. One of the most perceptible results of regular reading is improvement in vocabulary and writing skills.
It is imperative to promote a reading culture, globally as well as in India, to avert the learning crisis which looms large.
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