Advancing literacy and supporting students during a pandemic

By Rotary Service and Engagement staff

According to the United Nations, the COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption in the education system in history, affecting nearly 1.6 billion students in more than 190 countries across all continents. School closures  and other learning spaces have impacted 94% of the world’s student population, 99% of which are in low and lower-middle income countries.

The global pandemic has also reduced learning opportunities for the most vulnerable children, youth, and adults living in poor or rural areas, girls, refugees, persons with disabilities and forcibly displaced persons which can drastically impact their futures. Closures of educational institutions go beyond just learning and effect other aspects of life, including access to nutritious food, affect the ability of many parents to work, and increase risks of violence against women and girls.

As Rotary members continue to serve their communities during the pandemic through innovative and creative projects, we encourage you to take action by focusing on supporting literacy in your community in honor of Rotary Basic Education and Literacy Month celebrated each September.

Below are some way clubs are taking action:

  • The Rotary Clubs of Felicity/Charlieville and Chaguanas in Trinidad and Tobago partnered to host six online creative writing sessions, held weekly for 65 students. Each session was three hours long and Rotary members were assisted by two teachers from the local school. Other teachers and the school principal also attended. The sessions promoted literacy for students while helping the teachers become more effective practitioners in creative writing when the school reopens. Each session featured a movie clips followed by a discuss about character development, literacy themes and story lines. Discussions also explored in-depth analysis of stories by delving into character traits, literacy and figurative analysis. The series emphasized using language to develop characters and advance story plots. Students were given a creative writing story planner which outlined all the features of an effective story, and were encouraged to write their own stories.
  • The Rotary Club of Erina in Australia donated supplies to students in Northern Tanzania. 125 packs of soap, hand sanitizer, water, bleach, as well as staple foods such as rice, maize flour and beans, directions on making a mask, information about effective prevention measures and current facts about COVID-19 were included in the packs. Students also received study packs with resources and work sheets to continue their education since many students do not have access to computers at home to keep with their studies.
  • The Rotaract Club of University of Agriculture Faisalabad in Pakistan arranged a virtual session on digital learning via Zoom for their members. During the session, a Rotarian explained how to use different websites for online learning as universities remained closed due to COVID-19. This session gave club members opportunities to learn online about a vast variety of topics through courses from different universities around the world and encouraged them spend their time at home gaining new skills and knowledge.

What kind of literacy projects is your club taking on? Leave a comment below and share your projects on Rotary Showcase. Join the Basic Education and Literacy Discussion Group on My Rotary to learn from experts and share ideas with fellow members.

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