Parent Peer Education Participate Guide published for Early Grade Reading in Liberia

Research shows that barriers to education, parental aspirations, and societal norms are similar across the world and do not change that dramatically—whether you are in West Africa or South Asia. Another Option has been working in early grade reading for four years in Africa and Asia under several USAID-funded awards.

As part of the USAID Read Liberia project, our technical experts have just published two guides for peer educators and lead trainers working across Liberia to promote early grade reading. These guides were vetted through a series of focus groups to ensure that they were relevant to parents and caregivers in urban and rural communities across Liberia. One major component of making the two documents accessible to Liberian parents and caregivers were illustrations by local artist Brima Wolobah which show real life situations that parents can use to talk about reading with their peers or support their child’s learning. 

These materials are available for download and may be adapted for use with attribution, under Creative Commons Attribution. Specific requirements for reuse can be found within each document.

Early Grade Reading Project Public Awareness Report Published

To support Another Option’s ongoing work promoting Early Grade Reading in Nepal, the Social and Behavior Change Technical team for the RTI-managed and USAID-funded project designed a national study to measure awareness of key messages and behaviors related to early grade reading. In partnership with various branches of the Government of Nepal, the study used a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods to interview families about their beliefs and behaviors related towards reading and their children.

Overall key findings identified that 57.1% parents and 81.9% teachers had listened to radio PSAs published by Another Option, and 39.1% parents and 50.5% teachers had listened to the radio program “Ramailo Padhai, Digo Sikai” (in English, Reading is Fun). Significant numbers of parents and teachers could recall key messages from the materials as well.

The full report is available here for download.

 

Adapting intervetions to local cultural contexts

Another Option has been working in early grade reading for four years in Africa and Asia under several USAID-funded awards. Research shows that barriers to education, parental aspirations, and societal norms are similar across the world and do not change that dramatically—whether you are in West Africa or South Asia.

As part of the USAID Early Grade Reading Program (EGRP) in Nepal, we’ve provided technical support in early grade reading Social and Behavior Change. We’ve worked closely with the Government of Nepal stakeholders including the Department of Education and the National Center for Education Development to design and develop numerous training materials for parents and caretakers, teachers, and education officers to support early grade reading. Developed resources including a peer education module for parents, and an interpersonal communication toolkit for teachers to bridge communication gaps with students’ parents.

In Nepal, we worked very closely with the government of Nepal to design and create all of our materials. And, we’re really pleased that the teacher training guide has been accepted by the government of Nepal as part of its national teacher training curriculum.

Because the social mobilization and interpersonal communication have shown results in Nepal, we wanted to test these materials in Liberia to see if they could be adapted to the Liberian setting and its needs for our USAID Read Liberia.

With permission from the Liberian Ministry of Education to pre-test the peer education materials, we set out to answer three critical questions: do parents understand the content (particularly the graphics and illustrations); was the guide culturally sensitive; and would it resonate with Liberian parents of young readers.

We conducted an assessment with twenty-one parents-twelve women and nine men-in two communities – one urban and one rural—at Slipway Public School and King’s Farm Public School. We found that the barriers to education and aspirations were similar to parents and teachers in our Nepal-based early reading program. Parents we interviewed in both places cited factors related to economics, social norms, existing education infrastructure, and gender as real challenges in their attempts to ensure their children received a decent education.

 Illustration from Another Option's Peer Guide created for parents and caregivers in Nepal.

Illustration from Another Option's Peer Guide created for parents and caregivers in Nepal.

The Liberian parents overall did relate to the illustrations that were developed for Nepali parents, and that the tools were able to generate insightful discussions about the roles of parents in the reading lives of their children both in and out of school. Parents at both of our focus groups said they could see themselves and their challenges reflected in the illustrations.

Parents also provided feedback on specific visual details that Another Option could do to make the resources more relatable to the Liberian context. For example, participants indicated that some of the hand gestures used in the Nepali context varied in their interpretation in Liberia and could confuse the user. They also asked for more illustrations bridging into the community and not just in the school setting to allow parents to see their roles as educators throughout their daily interactions with their children. Additionally, much discussion was held around the differences of the education setting in rural areas versus urban areas and how these could be better portrayed.

 An illustration from the Liberia edition of our Peer Guide.

An illustration from the Liberia edition of our Peer Guide.

Based on these responses, we worked with local illustrators to improve the cultural resonance of the illustrations in efforts to make it more relevant to parents and caregivers in urban and rural communities in Liberia. Additional materials like flyers and posters will be developed for social mobilizers to use during community engagement activities promoting early grade reading. The final Liberian version has been shared with the Ministry of Education and we have received the go ahead to test it in the field across several counties.

With these changes, parents will have specific examples on what they can do to help their children learn to read. These include children reading aloud for ten minutes a day, children having a quiet place to read, and regularly going to school.

In both Nepal and in Liberia the support and guidance from the Ministries of Education were invaluable. The Nepal version is endorsed and carries the seal of the Ministry of Education, and we hope that the Liberian ministry also adds its endorsement to this early grade reading tool.

New Training for Peer Educators in Nepal

June kicked-off with the expansion of USAID’s Early Grade Reading Program in Nepal into ten new districts in the country. Another Option brought together 94 recently designated regional mobilization officers and representatives from ten community-based organizations for a ten-day training on promoting key behaviors for peer networks of parents to promote early grade reading.

Prabodh Acharya and Sangeeta Lama, Another Option’s technical leads in Nepal, conducted the orientation using the Peer Education Interpersonal Communication Module. The training guide, created previously by Another Option for this project, orients parents to key behaviors they can adapt in their home and community to promote early grade reading. These behaviors range from setting aside ten minutes a day for a child to read out loud, to preparing a special place for the child to study in the home. The training also encourages parents to strengthen their relationships with their children’s teachers through active participation in parent-teacher meetings and dialogues.

Previous graduates of the Another Option peer training attended this workshop to share their experiences implementing lessons learned and to encourage the newest trainees to utilize the training in their daily interactions not only with community members, but also within their own children’s lives.

At the end of the workshop, each newly trained organization received a copy of the Peer Education Interpersonal Communication Guide, a poster with key behaviors and prompt cards to initiate dialogues with parents around early grade reading.

Workshop to Support Early Grade Reading Held in in Gbarnga, Liberia

Community engagement and social mobilization are at the heart of USAID Read Liberia.  Another Option for the activity organized and conducted a one-day workshop to introduce Read Liberia to local Community-based organizations. The meeting was held in Gbarnga, Bong County on April 24, 2018.

The workshop was designed for community-based organizations (CBOs) to share their activities in social mobilization and identify opportunities where early grade reading activities, i.e., reading clubs, parent-teacher meetings, reading contests, could be included in their outreach programs.  It was helpful in our planning to learn from their rich experiences, as well as to build-in discussions of what are effective approaches to community engagement.

The large group of 52 community workers were divided into smaller working groups. They shared their different experiences on introducing different behaviors in health and education. In addition to sharing activities that worked they talked about lessons learned and what didn’t work. The workshop concluded by drawing examples of how these experiences and interventions related to the new USAID activity especially focusing on parents’ engagement in early grade reading.

Recommendations included the development of peer education training and social mobilization materials to support key messages on early grade reading as well as introducing a monitoring system to support transparency and accountability of USAID Read Liberia activities.

This workshop is the first of several planned community meetings to discuss benefits and ways to increase early grade reading in Liberia.

The initiative is active in six counties: Nimba, Lofa, Bong, Margibi, Montserrado, and Grand Bassa.

 

CBO Workshop to Support Early Grade Reading Held in in Gbarnga, Liberia

Community engagement and social mobilization are at the heart of USAID Read Liberia.  Another Option for the activity organized and conducted a one-day workshop to introduce Read Liberia to local Community-based organizations. The meeting was held in Gbarnga, Bong County on April 24, 2018.

 Community leaders discuss ways to use existing outreach activities to promote early reading.

Community leaders discuss ways to use existing outreach activities to promote early reading.

The workshop was designed for community-based organizations (CBOs) to share their activities in social mobilization and identify opportunities where early grade reading activities, i.e., reading clubs, parent-teacher meetings, reading contests, could be included in their outreach programs.  It was helpful in our planning to learn from their rich experiences, as well as to build-in discussions of what are effective approaches to community engagement.

The large group of 52 community workers were divided into smaller working groups. They shared their different experiences on introducing different behaviors in health and education. In addition to sharing activities that worked they talked about lessons learned and what didn’t work. The workshop concluded by drawing examples of how these experiences and interventions related to the new USAID activity especially focusing on parents’ engagement in early grade reading.

Recommendations included the development of peer education training and social mobilization materials to support key messages on early grade reading as well as introducing a monitoring system to support transparency and accountability of USAID Read Liberia activities.

This workshop is the first of several planned community meetings to discuss benefits and ways to increase early grade reading in Liberia.

The initiative is active in six counties: Nimba, Lofa, Bong, Margibi, Montserrado, and Grand Bassa.

Rebecca Martinez, who wrote this blog post, is the Program Coordinator for USAID Read Liberia. She conducted the meeting in partnership with local counterparts on the ground in Liberia.

Nepal Early Grade Reading Program Report

USAID/Nepal’s Early Grade Reading Program (EGRP) has an emphasis on Social and Behavior Change activities, including advocacy, medium mass media, radio program and media orientation. This report was prepared by EAN, a Nepal communication agency that worked with EGRP. It documents the program, which was conducted in six districts in Nepal.