Going back to school was smooth for Ghanashyam, thanks to the Reading and Math Club

Tuesday 29 March 2022

Saturdays are special days for Ghanashyam (8). It is his favourite day as he gets to come to the Reading and Math Club organized in his school through the Samunnati project in Mahottari.

Unlike the conventional school teaching, the Reading and Math Club facilitator teaches the students in creative ways. The children feel like they are playing while also learning at the same time in a safe environment. Since the Reading and Math Club started in his school, Ghanashyam has already taken nine Reading and Math Club sessions till date.

“I study in class one. I live with my father, mother, and a younger sister. She is just a year old, and I love her so much. I like to play with her and give her rides on my back. My favourite subject is Nepali, Math and Mero Serofero (My surrounding). I like studying about our country and Junu’s family in Mero Serofero. I like addition the most in Maths and I think Nepali is just easier to study,” says Ghanashyam.

 

“It has been more than a month since we started having Saturday Classes (Reading Club). The classes start at 9 AM but I reach school at 7 so that I can meet my friends. All my friends come early. We study till 10 AM and return home. Our teacher teaches us to write in air, write Nepali alphabets and we play games like hiding handkerchiefs. We also play with alphabet cards and make words from the cards drawn by each student in class. I feel like it has been easier to study in regular class after I started the Saturday Classes. Our school was closed for many months, and I spent the whole of my grade two at home. I studied at home throughout the year, but it was nothing like studying in school. When I resumed my classes at school, I could not remember everything that I studied before my school was closed. But I remembered most of it once. I really love Saturday Classes. Our (facilitator) has said she will make us play games coming Saturday,” Ghanashyam happily shares. 

 About Reading and Math Club:

Reading and Math Club, under the Sponsorship program, is a creative approach to smoothly transition students back to school. Reading clubs offer children in grades 1,2, and 3 an opportunity to participate in fun, engaging literacy and numeracy activities outside the school environment. Youth facilitators act as leaders for younger children as they participate in a variety of entertaining activities designed to increase their reading and math abilities. Participation by children is voluntary but only a maximum of 24 children can be accommodated per Reading Club so that the facilitator can give equal time to all students. A literate youth volunteer is selected to be the facilitator of the reading clubs. In some contexts, communities may decide that literate adult volunteers are better able to commit to the role. The chosen facilitators are trained before starting the reading clubs.

One of the objectives of the club is to develop children’s reading and numeracy habits, motivation, and enjoyment of reading through fun, supportive, safe places for children to develop their reading skills outside of school. Building children’s reading and math skills through practice is another main objective of the activity. Reading Clubs are structured but informal and should not resemble school. Children should not sit in rows, but rather in a large circle or small groups.

The community members decide the best place in the community to have Reading Clubs. Clubs may take place at the club leader’s home, in a communal place in the village, or even on a mat under a tree. Club sessions are about 90 minutes long. Ideally, Reading Clubs take place at least once per week, usually after school or on the weekends, and can continue during school holidays. The timeframe and frequency can be adapted to meet the local needs of the community.

Through 52 such Reading and Math Clubs in Mahottari, a total of 1217 students (659 girls and 558 boys) were reached. The clubs run for three to four months at a time, and they were implemented in the field by Save the Children’s partners Community Family Welfare Association (CFWA) and Ratauli Youth Club (RYC) in Mahottari.