Frontline Stories

Literacy Boost in Bangladesh

In a small village in Bangladesh, eight-year-old Jisan stands in front of the class and reads a well-known tale. “My favourite story is called The Frog and the Princess,” he says, smiling.

The son of a powerful king was cursed and changed into a frog by an ugly witch. One day, he met and fell in love with a beautiful princess who kissed him. “I always like getting to the end when the frog turned into a handsome prince,” Jisan says to Nahar. Nahar is a teacher in Jisan’s village in southern Bangladesh. After she received training from World Vision, she started using the Literacy Boost approach on her first grade class and has continued those methods with the same students, who are now entering fourth grade.

“Before, I only used the textbook,” she says, “but now I use teaching materials that I made to help students’ learning. I like to teach in groups, because I can do evaluation with students in one group while the other group do their own work.” Among her materials are posters displaying key information, such as separated syllables. “They help students to remember,” she adds. All 32 of her pupils can now read and write.

Today, Jisan has joined the community’s reading club near his home. His teachers attribute his great leaps in reading and writing to the club, which children attend once a week to learn to read and borrow books. Each member has a reading buddy, who helps the child outside of school.

Just a year ago, Jisan was a quiet child, often refusing to participate in class or interact with his peers. As a result, his academic performance suffered. His father, Yunus, says: “My son didn’t do well at school because he was too shy and solitary.”

Knowing the challenges Jisan faced in school, Nahar recommended the World Vision-supported reading club to his father, explaining that the sessions took place in a friendlier and less formal environment. She said students found the sessions more fun as they can play, share their feelings about the books they read and be creative.

Jisan joined the club last December. Over time, he has overcome his shyness and started to engage with his peers. And as his reading skills have grown, so has his confidence. His progress in school has mirrored his progress at home, where his behaviour and relationship with his parents have dramatically improved.

The project offers strategies for parents to support their children’s learning, and the reading clubs are run by World Vision-trained volunteers. Jisan’s parents had little education, but can now read and understand the importance of their child’s studies. They cannot afford a private tutor, so they have to check his homework. They can read, tell stories and are aware of phonetics. Previously, there were no books at home, but now his father has bought one for Jisan who loves it dearly.

Success in the reading club has put Jisan back on track at school. Now he can identify letters, create sentences and read fluently. He likes poems and storytelling and can summarise a story. Jisan aspires to be a teacher. He now has the opportunity to continue learning and help other students.

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