“Great information.” “I enjoyed the training and think it will help to implement the project activities.” These comments represent just a sampling of the positive responses from participants in the recent launch of Enabling Writers country projects in four Asian countries. The launch event, organized by Reading within Reach (REACH) on November 21-25 in Jakarta, Indonesia, included teams from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Philippines.
One of the major challenges in addressing literacy needs in developing countries is the lack of appropriate decodable and levelled texts for young readers, available in a language they can understand. The Enabling Writers initiative is designed to train teams of local writers to produce hundreds of decodable and leveled books reflecting the cultures and languages of the young people who will read them. The initiative uses SIL International’s Bloom book-writing software, the winner of the All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development competition.
By supporting quality early grade book development and providing those books for open use through both print and digital formats, the All Children Reading Grand Challenge Partnership, the Global Reading Network and Reading within Reach are working to ensure that the goal of providing quality reading resources for every child can become a reality in developing countries around the world. Earlier in the year, an RFP had been issued for funding awards to support the implementation of writer’s workshops and associated activities to use the Bloom book-writing software to develop hundreds of books in for children in local languages. Four teams from Asia received grants: Bangladesh (Dhaka Asania Mission), Indonesia (Yayasan Sulinama), Nepal (World Education Inc.) and the Philippines (University of San Jose Ricoletos).
The workshop provided an opportunity for the country teams to learn how to use the Bloom software to develop their books and how to work with authors to develop books suitable for early grade readers. As part of the workshop, participants received resources including the Bloom software and other materials to help facilitate their work.
The goal is for country teams to engage local writers (up to 30 writers per country) to work together to write 200 or more books in local languages in both Bangladesh and Indonesia, 800 books in the Philippines, and 1,400 books in Nepal. All books will be aligned with specific national competencies for literacy acquisition and content knowledge, while content will be culturally and contextually appropriate. Projects are engaging local ministries of education in their implementation and book development, and all book products will be delivered to national ministries of education for adoption and use with schools across each country.
At the workshop, REACH Project Director Sakil Malik covered project management and discussed tools and procedures specific to the successful completion of these one-year EW grants. REACH Senior Technical Advisor Amy Pallangyo worked with country education and reading specialists to discuss the elements of a quality children’s book, the purpose and use of decodable and leveled books in early grade classrooms and how to prepare appropriate decodable and leveled texts for readers in Grades 1 and 2. Finally, Paul Frank from SIL LEAD trained country technology specialists to use Bloom software and provided guidance on how to train their writing teams.
Country teams also participated in a Global Reading Network session, where a larger set of Indonesian stakeholders also came to learn more about GRN, join the network and provide feedback and suggestions for how GRN can best support early grade literacy education around the world. Teams will take information about GRN participation back to their home countries to continue to build their local network within their global network involvement.
The teams from Asia have now returned home and will begin local training and book writing. They are working with their ministries of education to ensure that their leveling guidelines are consistent with national policies for early grade reading, and they are selecting their writing teams with an emphasis on building the long-term capacity of local literacy actors in their regions.
In early 2017, Enabling Writers will move forward with the launch of additional projects to support book development in Hausa (through an award to the American University of Nigeria) and Haitian Creole (through an award to Library for All). Awards for Kiswahili and Arabic language book development will also be made. In addition, efforts are underway to continue to release funds for new country projects in the coming year, and information about those potential opportunities will be made available through the GRN monthly newsletter.
All books developed through Enabling Writers will have a Creative Commons CC BY copyright. This will allow for their open publishing and use by any organization or individual interested in distributing the books, thus increasing the potential scope of availability and use. In addition, all Enabling Writers books will be provided through the Global Digital Library, a new initiative focused on making a large set of quality decodable and leveled books available through online delivery systems.
For more information on Enabling Writers, contact Sakil Malik, Director of GRN and Reading within Reach (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Amy Pallangyo, Senior Technical Advisor for GRN and Reading within Reach (email@example.com).
|Paul Frank from SIL LEAD leads a workshop on using Bloom book-writing software.|