The Kids and Reading program is giving children and mothers an opportunity to experience books of different kinds, and thus giving them a reason to want to learn to read properly. Through reading, their minds will be opened to new possibilities. By playing educational games and doing crafts they get an opportunity to learn in a different way than their school rote learning. It will help them develop creativity and problem-solving skills. We hope that mothers will catch the idea that play is important and that the books, they receive as incentives for helping, will be read to their children at home. In the Talibe system, where young village boys are sent to the city to study the Qur'an, life is very difficult for the boys. They are often found begging and stealing on the streets. Two city centres provide an opportunity for more than 100 young boys between 4 -15 years of age placed in the Talibe system to receive education, recreation, vocational training, a nutritious meal, clothing, basic first aid care and access to shower facilities.
Even though many children attend school, the standard of education is inadequate. According to recent statistics regarding this year’s bac exam results, almost 28% passed the Technical Math, less than 18% passed the Math exam, and between two and six percent passed the language exams.
Many of the children learn the mechanics of reading in school and in the neighbourhood Qur’anic schools, which the majority of the children attend five afternoons a week. Mostly they learn by rote and memorization and therefore they struggle to read even a simple book with understanding. The overwhelming majority have nothing to read at home. Even literate mothers don’t understand how important it is to read to their children and have no idea how to read a book aloud to a child.
The mothers do not understand the importance of stimulating play and education. The children have few stimulating toys and are not encouraged to play educational games or do crafts. This is traditionally an oral culture, but in the city, this is quickly exchanged for a television culture.
To increase the value of learning in the neighbourhood our partner has started an ‘after school reading/learning club’ where children are encouraged to read books, do simple crafts and play educational games.
Mothers and older siblings, mostly sisters, are asked to volunteer to help read a couple of books aloud to the children each time. They are guided to read with expression and to ask relevant questions to help the children understand and appreciate the book. The volunteers will also assist children in their own reading and help with games and craft activities, thus gaining experience.
As reward, they will be able to choose a few books and craft materials as a gift. This will enable them to continue similar activities at home.