We’re Expanding ‘Read To Kids’ To Empower Syrian Refugees
February 14, 2017 By Selena Garrahan
Children are the most vulnerable victims of the Syrian Refugee crisis. And while host countries like Jordan are taking generous measures to improve access to education for these children, many are at risk of being left behind.
At Worldreader we believe every child should be able to benefit from the power of reading. That’s why we are proud to announce that we are building on the success of our Read to Kids program in India by expanding it to conflict-impacted families in Jordan. The program, which was piloted with generous support from Pearson, supports parents and caregivers to become their children’s first teachers, enabling and encouraging them to read to their young children using their mobile phones. While the crisis has interrupted many children’s education, parents have a tool at their disposition to keep children reading: their mobile phones. Leveraging high literacy and mobile access in conflict-impacted communities, there is an opportunity to provide an emergency response for educational support unlike ever before.
The Read to Kids program will bring Arabic children’s books to 50,000 households across Jordan via our mobile phone app. The program seeks to strengthen the role parents and caregivers can play in their children’s reading development. We will also work with educators and publishers to curate a psychosocial collection of books that encourages stories and reading as a safe way to explore emotions and generate healing.
Read to Kids Jordan is the latest Worldreader project aimed at demonstrating the transformative impact of giving parents the tools they need to read with their children. Each year, over 200 million children are at risk of not reaching their full cognitive potential before the age of five. Many of these children are living in communities affected by poverty or increasingly in communities affected by armed conflict. To address this learning crisis, education programs need to start early and support children’s learning long before the child reaches the classroom. Family and community support is critical to mitigating the effects of inequitable access to quality education. Being read to regularly at an early age can mitigate some of the effects of poverty and conflict on learning. Through quality books, a supportive environment and simple scaleable technology solutions, parents can be provided with the tools needed to improve their child’s reading journey and help level the playing field for such disadvantaged children.
Read to Kids India began in the Delhi region of India in 2015 and has already reached over 60,000 people. The India program seeks to improve the school readiness of vulnerable children by providing their parents and caregivers with quality digital Hindi and English books found on our Read to Kids application. Leveraging a network of education, health, and publishing partners in New Delhi, Worldreader launched a reading campaign and program activities to support parents in regularly reading to their children with their mobile devices. The program launched a behavior change campaign that raised awareness around the value of reading to young children and worked to strengthen the culture of reading to young children overall. The program hopes to reach 200,000 users by June 2017.
Applying the learnings from our India program, Worldreader identified the opportunity to bring this program to address the needs of Syrian refugee and host country children. Children affected by crisis frequently have their learning interrupted or its quality compromised. The scale and magnitude of this particular crisis demand new solutions that everyone—schools, communities, and parents—can use to protect children’s learning and emotional wellbeing. Until the international community takes comprehensive action to address underlying conflict and dislocation, we at Worldreader are committed to doing our small part and helping children and families to continue reading and taking refuge in books.
We plan to launch Read to Kids Jordan in late 2017 with support from the Jordanian Ministry of Education and funding from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. This new project builds on the success of our partnership with SNF in launching the LEAP program in 2016. Read more about this important announcement here.