Lectores a Líderes (Readers to Leaders)Improving comprehension and reading fluency to motivate children to stay in school.
In 2019, Manuel, a schoolteacher from Unión Las Palmas, was concerned about the children in his village because there was a big dropout rate between completing primary school and going on to middle school. He felt it was due to the lack of reading skills at this juncture. Students in communities closer to the city had better educational opportunities than those in the rural schools, so when it came time for all the students to start middle school, those from the more isolated schools were already behind their peers on the first day of school. He felt this problem could be solved by designing a program which specifically addressed this issue.
Teachers personally select the books they feel would create interest and motivate students to WANT to read. The children are assessed individually and are taught where they are, with achievable short-term and long-term goals. There are a variety of techniques incorporated into the 12-week sessions, all complementing the theme of any given book. Activities include games, art, mini-theater, work in the garden and outside of the classroom, songs, reading aloud to younger children, workbook challenges, among others. The sky is the limit! Each student who completes the program with near-perfect attendance receives a solar lamp, something which is highly prized by families in a community with no electricity.
We have completed three cycles of Readers to Leaders, each time carefully analyzing the program’s efficacy and improving it for maximum impact. THE CHILDREN LOVE IT. On any given day one can see kids throughout the villages sitting on rocks or curbs, looking intently at books. Older students are reading to their younger siblings, improving their fluency and creating more enthusiasm for reading. We are in the process of creating a metric by which we can measure whether the program is meeting the objective of motivating children to stay in school. Plans are in place for the data to be collected.
Hope For The Future
We plan to expand this program to other communities that are struggling with a high dropout rate between primary and middle school. Casa Colibrí has been asked to bring this program to other nearby villages, and at present, we are looking for funding to meet the need. As the program grows, we will train other teachers in the model and appoint a person in country to oversee the program.