Literacy project helps Sudan refugees rebuild
School children in Southern Sudan attend a class. Photo courtesy of Duk County Teacher Training Initiative
A literacy project sponsored by U.S. Rotarians in conjunction with the International Reading Association (IRA) is helping Sudanese refugees rebuild their communities by equipping them to teach future generations.
The Southern Sudan Teacher Training Initiative provides refugees of the country's decades-long civil war, who are known as the Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan, with teacher training materials, guidance, and support to help them teach students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
"People returning from refugee camps to rebuild their lives in Duk County are hungry for books and school supplies," says John Dau, a Lost Boy, humanitarian, and founder of the John Dau Foundation.
The first phase of the project began in August 2009 when members of the Rotary Club of Ellensburg Morning, Washington, and IRA members met with two lead teachers from Sudan and sponsored their participation in the IRA’s Pan-African Reading for All Conference.
"The Sudanese educators benefited from the experience by becoming aware of what is possible and learning what is happening on their continent in the field of literacy," says IRA member and Ellensburg Morning club president Judy Backlund.
The second phase in late 2009 provided literacy assessment tools and basic teaching strategies via Flip Video™ camcorders.
Teacher training will begin in early 2011, when 10 teachers are taught literacy teaching strategies, which they will then share with other teachers. The third phase will include evaluation, follow-up, and support.
The project aims to benefit more than 3,000 students living in Duk County.
Since 2002, Rotary International and the IRA have worked together to promote literacy in communities around the world. Rotary clubs and districts have collaborated with IRA councils at both the community and international levels to create literacy centers in Pakistan, provide books to new parents in the United States, and build schools in Ecuador.
To celebrate International Literacy Day, 8 September, Rotary clubs are encouraged to develop a relationship with their local IRA council.
Clubs can invite IRA members to present at a club meeting, or club members can offer to make a presentation to a local IRA council about Rotary’s Avenues of Service. Learn more about the IRA or find a council serving your area.
As part of its celebration of International Literacy Day, the IRA hosted a one-hour webinar focusing on the role of literacy in improving the lives of women and girls. "Building Support for Effective Reading Instruction" featured Backlund; Richard Carson, Rotary representative to the Organization of American States; and Patricia Edwards, IRA president.
The IRA also planned a panel discussion 8 September in Washington, D.C., with Edwards and USAID Director of Education David Barth on the subject of early literacy instruction and teacher preparation globally
For more information: