Liberia’s literacy rate among youth has been determined to be 63.5% according to UNICEF’s 2013 report. A 2008 World Bank/USAID assessment found that the “average correct words per minute in grades 2 and 3 was 15.5 and that 34% of 2-3 grade students in a representative sample could not read ONE word.”

Reading is a problem for our students and in order to change these narratives, collective efforts are needed.

To support efforts by various actors in the education sector in improving Liberia’s literacy rates, the Kids’ Educational Engagement Project (KEEP) recently launched a campaign to promote reading among young learners, particularly targeting students up to 6th grade called “I Can Read”.

The campaign involves working with school teachers, parents and the students in improving the reading fluency, comprehension and vocabulary building of the young learners.

The organization taps into volunteers who come in to read to the students during its “Reading Hour” where a variety of books are read to the students and they are asked questions regarding their understanding of what was read to them, new words are recognized, explained and taught, and then a student from the group reads a short story to the others. Books written by Liberian authors with Liberian content play a major part of these reading sessions.

Key components of the reading campaign is to get parents to make time to read to and with their kids and to encourage parents to play a more active role in the education of their children and to get students in the culture of reading.

Speaking at the end of a reading session Mrs. Monique Cooper Liverpool said “reading opens up our minds to a world beyond what we see. Spending time in books and stories makes our children strong thinkers and active learners.” 32

The organization intends to continue this reading campaign and to get other schools involved as well.

To support the work the organization is doing in Gbarpolu county on the upgrading of a public school, the Royal Grand Hotel restaurant management has offered to donate 50% of all sales in the restaurant on July 23 & 24 towards that project.

Ms. Helen Eid who manages the restaurant of the hotel also volunteers her time to read to the students as well. At the end of a reading session recently, Ms. Eid commended the initiative and noted that such community led efforts need to be supported and encouraged.