Ambitious library project for schoolchildren in Thimphu and Zhemgang

354 ‘reading corners’ are to be set up in all sections of pre-primary to class III

Reading: The Bhutan Children’s Book Initiative (BCBI) will establish 354 classroom libraries, also called reading corners, in all sections of pre-primary to class III in primary schools in Thimphu and Zhemgang, by March.

The pilot project in the two districts will target children from early childhood care and development (ECCD) till class III, and it is expected to benefit over 9,000 children in 57 primary schools and seven ECCD centres supported by Save the Children.

Royal Education Council (REC) and Save the Children trained 20 teachers from Thimphu and Zhemgang as trainers on reading skills, strategies, and book management under the BCBI Project.

The trainers will train over 392 PP to class III schoolteachers and principals towards the end of February.  Teacher training is one of the six activities of the project.

The project trained local writers and authors on writing children’s books in June, and local illustrators on illustrating books for children in November last year.

Save the Children-Bhutan office education manager Karma Dyenka said that this particular project also caters to working with local publishers and asking Bhutanese writers to write books for children, and to use characters, situations and contexts that are familiar to Bhutanese children.

BCBI has started the production of bookshelves for classroom reading corners, and five children’s books by local authors were published and supplied.  An additional 15 books are on the way.

Save the Children – Bhutan office education project officer, Bishal Rai, said the  training was organised to enhance early reading and inculcate a reading habit in young children. “Each classroom will have about 20 to 30 books on their shelves,” he added.

“Children learn to read now so that later they read to learn and we hope it’ll enhance their learning outcome in the classroom,” he said. “The training is stressed on reading out loud and independent reading.”

The project focuses on improving the supply of locally produced, high quality, age and context appropriate books for children, enhancing demand for locally produced children’s books, and improve the management and use of books in support of learning.

Karma Dyenka said reading strategies, like reading aloud and independent reading, are important.  Using these strategies with children will encourage them to read.  The reading skills the children acquire will help them in their lessons, academics, examinations and therefore learning outcome will be achieved.

Department of curriculum research and development director, Kesang Choden Dorji, said the libraries in schools are well stocked with appropriate books, but there was not much evidence that these books were being put to use and that children had developed a reading culture.

“Language competencies of both the children and teachers are way below the expected standards, so the reading program was launched basically to inject literally and get the people to start reading, said Kesang Choden Dorji. “Start reading first for pleasure, develop the habit and eventually it will show a remarkable difference in a learning outcome.”

The five-day workshop in Paro, held by the senior education advisor of Save the Children, Joseph Nhan-O’Reilly, ended yesterday.

By Dechen Tshomo

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