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READ Global Brings Libraries and Learning to South Asia

by on September 8, 2015

READ (Rural Education and Development) Global is a nonprofit organization that operates in rural South Asia and has its headquarters in San Francisco, California. Antonia Neubauer founded READ in 1991 after meeting a tour guide in Nepal who told her his wish was to have a library in his village. “Founded on the belief that improved access to educational resources creates lasting social change in developing communities, READ partners with rural villages to build Community Library and Resource Centers (READ Centers). READ Centers offer a variety of programs—from literacy and women’s empowerment to information communications technology (ICT) and livelihood skills training. READ currently works with communities in rural Bhutan, India and Nepal.” (READ Global 2013)

The group institutes community library and resource centers (READ Centers) by affiliating with rural districts in South Asia, where a majority of women are illiterate and most families live below the poverty line. Each Center has a library, computer room, women’s section, children’s room, and training hall. So far, READ Global has established over seventy READ Centers and 100 for-profit enterprises, which they state have aided over two million villagers in 171 different villages in Bhutan, India, and Nepal. READ Centers provide rounded education for villagers of all ages and backgrounds. Every READ Center has a library, computer room, training hall, and AV section. The Centers also have allocated children’s and women’s sections with specialized resources.

They also provide educational trainings in:

  • Literacy:Adult literacy courses, activities that promote habit of reading, and study groups give villagers a second chance to learn basic skills that can change their lives. Our programming is centered on creating a culture of learning.
  • Health:READ Centers provide information on preventative health, such as sanitation, hygiene, nutrition, preventable diseases, and sexual and reproductive health.
  • Children’s programs:READ Centers have sections specifically for children, featuring books for early readers, and educational games and toys. We provide children’s programs such as art workshops, environmental education, and reading groups.
  • Youth support:READ Centers support school-age youth by loaning out school textbooks and tablets, and by offering support in tutoring, homework, and exam preparation.” (READ Global Inspiring Rural Prosperity 2015).

Statistics indicate that READ Centers significantly enhance rural villagers’ access to educational opportunities and information in South Asia. A substantial majority of Center users (99% in Bhutan, 75% in India, and 67% in Nepal) said that without these centers they would have no contact with the information they acquired at the center. READ Centers are often the only reserve of its kind in rural villages. 50% of users who were illiterate before coming to the Center report that they can now sign their name and read signs. 91% of teachers surveyed in India and 88% in Nepal report that students’ grades have improved as a consequence of the Center. Over a third of villagers assessed in India and Nepal shared information absorbed at a READ Center with at least ten people. To learn more about READ Global, and how to support them check out their website at: http://www.readglobal.org/

References

READ Global. August 23, 2013. (accessed July 20, 2015).

READ Global Inspiring Rural Prosperity. January 01, 2015. (accessed July 20, 2015).


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