Family at the Center of Early Grade Literacy Efforts in Bangladesh

Beyond Access is excited to announce a new partnership with Save the Children in Bangladesh to support their USAID-funded READ project , building community-based literacy efforts in public and community libraries in Bangladesh. Through the Family Literacy Connect project, Beyond Access and Save the Children will work with libraries in Bangladesh to promote uses of appropriate technology that support parental and community engagement in building early grade reading skills in children. By focusing on libraries and technology, Beyond Access and Save the Children aim to have a new approach to address a key literacy challenge.

The Dilemma

Bangladesh faces an increasing literacy gap. While school enrollment has soared in recent years, the education system struggles to provide primary school-aged children with sufficient reading skills. The problem is compounded when many of the children aren’t spending enough time in the classroom, while their caregivers lack the skills and resources necessary to provide meaningful support to their children as they learn to read. This means that for many, there is a risk of being left out of Bangladesh’s nascent information economy.

At the same time, while Bangladesh has an extensive network of community and public libraries throughout the country, these libraries have not played an active role in literacy efforts. Indeed, the libraries tend to cater to older and more educated  users.

A Joint Effort

There is a general recognition of this gap and the potential that libraries present to expand their services to new patrons. In 2015, Beyond Access and Save the Children will work with 20 libraries throughout the country to implement new literacy-based services, designed to use technology to engage caregivers in the early grade literacy learning.

Librarians will gain the skills and resources necessary to successfully implement new literacy services. This will include friendly, welcoming spaces at their libraries designed for families, as well as technology appropriate for increasing reading skill. The project aims to reach at least 100 children and caregivers per month at each library, affording an opportunity to increase reading levels and develop a passion for reading, all in a safe space that is staffed by trained professionals, poised to engage families in the reading experience.