Spotlight on: Room to Read

4 Apr

Room To Read is an organization that focuses on the issues of literacy and equal access to education in the third world, primarily in countries of South East Asia and Africa. The organization has a massive scope. As of 2012, they have established 1,627 schools, 15,082 libraries and distributed 12.8 million books in ten countries. The organization operates on the principle that “literacy skills are the foundation for all future learning and educating girls is the most powerful and effective way to transform communities and end the cycle of illiteracy” (Room to Read Annual Report 2011).

What we think is admirable about this organization is their emphasis on partnership to ensure sustainability and cultural relevance. They work with existing schools, community leaders, and government officials to update teaching methods and curriculums, to promote literacy, and to incorporate materials that will increase gender equality in the classroom. According to their annual report, they “publish books by local authors and illustrators [as a way to] keep content culturally relevant for young readers”, and to help “pass along folklore and traditions from one generation to the next” (2011). Books are published in the main languages spoken in the local communities.

Their annual report asserts that “community ownership of our projects is paramount to long-term impact”, ensuring that, even after direct funding ends, their schools and libraries continue their work.

The organization also values partnerships with citizens of the Global North for support. The organization prides itself on its four-star award for sound fiscal management, bestowed by Charity Navigator, and makes a point of being transparent and accountable to its supporters.

Additionally, Room to Read encourages active participation over passive donating. The organization further encourages interested parties to be involved in a local chapter, promoting fundraising activities and spreading awareness. In this way, people are encouraged to do their own research, engaging with and thinking about global issues.

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