June kicked-off with the expansion of USAID’s Early Grade Reading Program in Nepal into ten new districts in the country. Another Option brought together 94 recently designated regional mobilization officers and representatives from ten community-based organizations for a ten-day training on promoting key behaviors for peer networks of parents to promote early grade reading.

Prabodh Acharya and Sangeeta Lama, Another Option’s technical leads in Nepal, conducted the orientation using the Peer Education Interpersonal Communication Module. The training guide, created previously by Another Option for this project, orients parents to key behaviors they can adapt in their home and community to promote early grade reading. These behaviors range from setting aside ten minutes a day for a child to read out loud, to preparing a special place for the child to study in the home. The training also encourages parents to strengthen their relationships with their children’s teachers through active participation in parent-teacher meetings and dialogues.

Previous graduates of the Another Option peer training attended this workshop to share their experiences implementing lessons learned and to encourage the newest trainees to utilize the training in their daily interactions not only with community members, but also within their own children’s lives.

At the end of the workshop, each newly trained organization received a copy of the Peer Education Interpersonal Communication Guide, a poster with key behaviors and prompt cards to initiate dialogues with parents around early grade reading.

Representatives from 54 local community based organizations participate in an Another-Option led session during the workshop.

Community engagement and social mobilization are at the heart of USAID Read Liberia.  Another Option for the activity organized and conducted a one-day workshop to introduce Read Liberia to local Community-based organizations. The meeting was held in Gbarnga, Bong County on April 24, 2018.

The workshop was designed for community-based organizations (CBOs) to share their activities in social mobilization anddentify opportunities where early grade reading activities, i.e., reading clubs, parent-teacher meetings, reading contests, could be included in their outreach programs.  It was helpful in our planning to learn from their rich experiences, as well as to build-in discussions of what are effective approaches to community engagement.

The large group of 52 community workers were divided into smaller working groups. They shared their different experiences on introducing different behaviors in health and education. In addition to sharing activities that worked they talked about lessons learned and what didn’t work. The workshop concluded by drawing examples of how these experiences and interventions related to the new USAID activity especially focusing on parents’ engagement in early grade reading.

Community leaders discuss ways to use existing outreach activities to promote early reading.

Recommendations included the development of peer education training and social mobilization materials to support key messages on early grade reading as well as introducing a monitoring system to support transparency and accountability of USAID Read Liberia activities.

This workshop is the first of several planned community meetings to discuss benefits and ways to increase early grade reading in Liberia.

The initiative is active in six counties: Nimba, Lofa, Bong, Margibi, Montserrado, and Grand Bassa.

 


Rebecca Martinez, who wrote this blog post, is the Program Coordinator for USAID Read Liberia. She conducted the meeting in partnership with local counterparts on the ground in Liberia.

USAID/Nepal’s Early Grade Reading Program (EGRP) has an emphasis on Social and Behavior Change activities, including advocacy, medium mass media, radio program and media orientation. This report was prepared by EAN, a Nepal communication agency that worked with EGRP. It documents the program, which was conducted in six districts in Nepal.

EGRP Nepal Project Report – Nov 2017

Research shows that one of the most successful ways to change behavior is through interpersonal communication (IPC) – counseling, conversations and recommendations of correct behaviors through trusted friends, family and others within their circle of influence.  Making sure these social influencers give good advice and re-enforce positive practices, it is important that they are trained with correct information.

In research looking at early grade reading behaviors in communities, Another Option found that parents talk to other parents about ways to help their children do well in school.  We developed a Peer Education training module that social mobilizers used in Nepal to train parents on how to engage with other parents and what simple practices they can adapt to help their children learn to read and do well in school.

The module has proven to be effective in our Early Grade Reading Program in Nepal and has been adapted to fit the needs and concerns of Liberian parents, as part of the USAID Read Liberia activity.  Working with the Ministry of Education in Liberia, Another Option has pre-tested the peer education module, adapted it to the Liberian setting, and will pilot it in several communities. It is approved by the Ministry and USAID/Liberia.

We are sharing the evidence-based materials here to be used freely. However, we ask you to please give credit to USAID/Liberia and Another Option LLC when reproducing any of the materials.

Lead Trainer – Peer Education Guide

Parent Peer Interpersonal Communication Guide

Another Option’s advocacy campaign conducted in six districts in Nepal for USAID’s Early Grade Reading Program was effective in increasing awareness and engagement on early grade reading. The data visualization shows the reach and frequency of the advocacy campaign conducted as part of the Social and Behavior Change component. Advocacy and media orientation were conducted to reach community leaders as well as parents to increase their understanding of the importance of early grade reading and how to help their children learn to read. Another Option’s implementing partner was Digital Broadcast Initiative, Equal Access. Support was also received from the Department of Education at the national and district levels. The campaign ran from 2016-2017.
Another Option has been working in early grade reading for four years in Africa and Asia under several USAID-funded awards. Research shows that barriers to education, parental aspirations, and societal norms are similar across the world and do not change that dramatically—whether you are in West Africa or South Asia.

As part of the USAID Early Grade Reading Program (EGRP) in Nepal, we’ve provided technical support in early grade reading Social and Behavior Change. We’ve worked closely with the Government of Nepal stakeholders including the Department of Education and the National Center for Education Development to design and develop materials for parents and caretakers, teachers, and education officers to support early grade reading. Developed resources including a peer education module for parents, and an interpersonal communication toolkit for teachers to bridge communication gaps with students’ parents.

An illustration showing a girl reading to her family in a typical Nepali home.

In Nepal, we worked very closely with the government of Nepal to design and create all of our materials. And, we’re really pleased that the teacher training guide has been accepted by the government of Nepal as part of its national teacher training curriculum.

Because the social mobilization and interpersonal communication have shown results in Nepal, we wanted to test these materials in Liberia to see if they could be adapted to the Liberian setting and its needs for our USAID Read Liberia.

With permission from the Liberian Ministry of Education to pre-test the peer education materials, we set out to answer three critical questions: do parents understand the content (particularly the graphics and illustrations); was the guide culturally sensitive; and would it resonate with Liberian parents of young readers.

We conducted an assessment with twenty-one parents-twelve women and nine men-in two communities – one urban and one rural—at Slipway Public School and King’s Farm Public School. We found that the barriers to education and aspirations were similar to parents and teachers in our Nepal-based early reading program. Parents we interviewed in both places cited factors related to economics, social norms, existing education infrastructure, and gender as real challenges in their attempts to ensure their children received a decent education.

The Liberian parents overall did relate to the illustrations that were developed for Nepali parents, and that the tools were able to generate insightful discussions about the roles of parents in the reading lives of their children both in and out of school. Parents at both of our focus groups said they could see themselves and their challenges reflected in the illustrations.

Parents also provided feedback on specific visual details that Another Option could do to make the resources more relatable to the Liberian context. For example, participants indicated that some of the hand gestures used in the Nepali context varied in their interpretation in Liberia and could confuse the user. They also asked for more illustrations bridging into the community and not just in the school setting to allow parents to see their roles as educators throughout their daily interactions with their children. Additionally, much discussion was held around the differences of the education setting in rural areas versus urban areas and how these could be better portrayed.

An illustration showing a child reading to her family in a typical Liberian household.

Based on these responses, we worked with local illustrators to improve the cultural resonance of the illustrations in efforts to make it more relevant to parents and caregivers in urban and rural communities in Liberia. Additional materials like flyers and posters will be developed for social mobilizers to use during community engagement activities promoting early grade reading. The final Liberian version has been shared with the Ministry of Education and we have received the go ahead to test it in the field across several counties.

With these changes, parents will have specific examples on what they can do to help their children learn to read. These include children reading aloud for ten minutes a day, children having a quiet place to read, and regularly going to school.

In both Nepal and in Liberia the support and guidance from the Ministries of Education were invaluable. The Nepal version is endorsed and carries the seal of the Ministry of Education, and we hope that the Liberian ministry also adds its endorsement to this early grade reading tool.

Learn more about our early grade reading work in Nepal here.


Rebecca Martinez, who wrote this blog post, is the Program Coordinator for USAID Read Liberia. She conducted the pre-test in partnership with local counterparts on the ground in Liberia.

An AAH health provider meets with a family during regular clinic hours at the NGO’s health facility in Uganda.

You know someone loves their work when in their free time, they volunteer to do the same thing!

Rose Mary Romano, managing partner of Another Option, and who has more than thirty-years of work experience in public health and international development, spends part of her off-hours as an active board member of the Arlington Academy of Hope (AAH) that supports a Ugandan NGO.

The small NGO was started to support the educational and health needs of rural villages in eastern Uganda.  Rose Mary was invited to join the AAH Board of Directors in 2016. In her role as a board member, she provides strategic direction to the NGO’s health and clinic programming.

Rose Mary has assisted the Uganda AAH health team begin to conduct data analysis of service delivery records and conduct a comprehensive quality control review of all staff training, facilities, equipment, and health commodities. These are daunting tasks for any donor-sponsored program. Thanks to her expertise in this technical area, Rosemary has significantly contributed to the NGO’s efforts on this front.

The NGO supports two clinics, one in Bumwalakani and the other in Buputo, Uganda. The clinic in Bumwalakani provides testing, treatment, and support for people affected by HIV and AIDS. The Buputo’s clinic specializes in maternal, newborn, and child health.

Speaking about her work with the health teams in Uganda, Rose Mary has said, “I’ve worked at the community-level for many years throughout Southern and Eastern Africa. My work with the clinics’ providers and working together to solve problems is rewarding… Working with AAH helps keep me grounded in my community-health roots, and it informs my work on our national and international programs.”

Learn more about the work of the Arlington Academy of Hope on their website: www.aahuganda.org

May 4, 2017. There are so many wonderful experiences from the USAID/Nepal Early Grade Reading Program that Another Option is working on.  Applying the behavior theories and strategies we use in our health and energy being utilized in education and early grade reading to encourage parents (…and grandparents and older siblings) to read with their children is one exciting experience.

Research shows that the most effective way to change behavior is through one-on-one experience or interpersonal communication. I saw it in action last week (April 24 ) when I attended a parent meeting in Bhaktapur, Nepal. The parents could not stop talking about their children….and especially their desire for them to learn how to read and to achieve beyond what they as parents have.

The meeting was a parent (peer) education training session conducted by the program’s social mobilizers.  Another Option developed the training guide the mobilizers are using to get parents to talk to other parents about the importance of Early Grade Reading and share tips on how they can go from desire for their children to read and excel to actually taking the necessary steps. The guide is posted on the web site (link).

It is powerful for parents to know that they are not doing this alone and that other parents are also trying to fit in time to read with their children with work outside of the home. Parents (peers) who have experience with reading at home share ideas and tips with parents such as relieving the child from some household chores to study and read each night and listening while the child reads for 10 minutes each day.

Parents and grandparents attended the training session, are a mix of residents and migrant families who live there for work. Parents learned the importance of early grade reading, talked about their ideas for

This is one of 250 trainings that will be held in this district in the next three months.