MONROVIA, Montserrado – The Kids Educational Engagement Project, a local initiative providing varied educational support to children in Liberia, will host its third annual fundraising dinner this Saturday in Monrovia. The dinner will take place at the Monrovia City Hall beginning at 6:30 p.m.
KEEP’s founder and executive director, Brenda Brewer Moore, told The Bush Chicken in an interview that the initiative aims to raise US$30,000 to fund its programs for 2019.
Moore said KEEP intends to open five additional reading rooms in five counties, including Bomi, Bong, and River Cess next year and scale up its computer literacy program in rural communities.
She said currently, KEEP runs nine reading rooms for children in Montserrado, Grand Gedeh, Margibi, and Gbarpolu and two resource centers that provide basic computer literacy training to residents of two rural communities in Gbarpolu.
“We want to scale that up and need funds. So, part of the funds we going to raise will go towards that,” she said.
According to her, excluding the costs of textbooks, transforming an ordinary classroom into a reading room for kids costs at least US$5,000.
She said the purpose of the reading room is to promote a culture of reading among primary school children in order to instill better reading comprehension skills. Moore believes that the poor reading skills of students in Liberia contribute to the mass failures seen in public exams, including the West Africa Secondary School Certificate Examination. Results from the first official WASSCE administered earlier this year shows that 65 percent of the candidates failed the test.
“We want to encourage reading, and to do that, we believe that children should have a place to access books. But most of the country does not have books,” she said.
According to her, a Ministry of Education report revealed that 60 percent of schools in the country lack access to a library.
“That is why we are trying to encourage reading, but by also establishing libraries where kids can access books to read,” she noted.
Meanwhile, she said her organization has also trained primary school teachers focusing on strategies that would facilitate and enhance the students’ reading habits.
Also, she said an assessment conducted on the success of the reading room program found that children accessing reading materials through KEEP’s interventions grew more interested in reading. She said the results of a baseline survey on the impact of the intervention was currently underway.
KEEP’s programs focus on children ranging from preschool to sixth grade, providing reading and other learning materials that help build their reading skills and vocabulary. It also does some women’s and girls’ empowerment programs, in addition to programs promoting access to justice and the promotion of rights in schools.
Featured photo courtesy of KEEP