Schooling didn’t come easy to Giduma.
“I struggled in reading,” he says. “Unlike my brothers, I started reading late. It was a struggle to catch up with my [peers].”
Through a lot of hard work, he rose to first rank in his class.
The first-born of five children, Giduma grew up in Nono, Ethiopia, about 75 miles outside of the capital, Addis Ababa. Only 39 percent of Ethiopians are able to read, which makes learning difficult for children like him. Without the ability to read, it’s difficult for kids to grow up and pursue jobs that can bring them out of poverty.
Seeing a need to improve literacy rates, World Vision helped start Reading Buddies, a program that aims to improve reading rates across Africa.
Through Reading Buddies, World Vision selected older children who have good reading and writing skills from each household. Staff trained them to read with their younger siblings. In conjunction with reading camps for the children, the program aims to improve literacy rates.
Knowing his own struggles to learn, Giduma was eager to help his siblings. He says, “I was very happy when I was chosen as a Reading Buddy. Using various books that are provided by World Vision Ethiopia, I am helping my siblings [learn] how to read and write. From that, I encourage them to remember each and every letter and word.”
Giduma and his siblings read together every day after school and on the weekends. His 14-year-old brother, Wakuma, is a grade four student benefitting from the program.
“Identifying letters and reading was very difficult for me,” Wakuma says. “I could not read until I finished grade two. Because of this, I used to answer exams by guessing.”
Through the program, Wakuma is learning to read as well as Giduma.
“Studying with our brother at home has helped us to practice and improve our reading skill more,” Wakuma says. “We ask him anything we want without any fear.”
Through this learning process, Wakuma is improving in school.
“My rank in the class was very bad before,” he says. “Now I got fourth rank in our class. … I want to take the first rank next year.”
“I enjoy reading these books,” Giduma says. “ … It is helping me improve my reading habit a lot.”
The boys’ mother, Bekelu Takele, is happy to see her children improving academically and has encouraged them to read together without disturbances.
“Previously, even though we send our children to school, they only identified some letters and could not read,” she says. “I and my husband did not have time to help them. But now, after they started attending reading camps and started studying with their brother at home, I have seen a great progress.”
More than 74 reading camps have been created in the Nono area, and more than 6,000 students participate. On top of that, more than 86 different book titles are circulated, providing variety for the students.
Photo©2015 World Vision, Meron Belay
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