Silicon Valley Students Go Low-Tech to Help Children in Developing Countries Learn to Read

from Save the Children
Published on 21 Aug 2012 View Original

Sacred Heart School's Summer Students Sketch Storybook Illustrations for Save the Children's Global Literacy Program

WESTPORT, Conn. (August 21, 2012) — Students from high-tech Silicon Valley are going low-tech to boost reading skills of young children in developing countries.

Summer students at Sacred Heart Schools in Atherton, Calif. put pencil and paint to paper over the past two weeks in an illustration workshop to create storybook drawings for children in some of the most under-resourced pockets of Africa and Asia.

The illustration workshop is a pilot project of the global humanitarian organization Save the Children, and is sponsored by the Bay Area Tutorpedia Foundation. The illustrations will be used in handmade storybooks in Save the Children's Literacy Boost program, which aims to improve children's reading skills in the early grades in developing countries.

Through the workshop, Sacred Heart Schools' summer students in grades 5 to 7, sharpened their drawing skills, discovered new cultures and learned what objects they should sketch to make their stories come to life for children across the globe.

Storybooks are essential to helping young children build their literacy skills in the classroom and at home. But storybooks are either not prevalent or difficult to attain in many of the communities in developing countries where Save the Children works.

"In some villages, you won't find a single children's book. Yet research shows that children learn to read best when they are exposed to a variety of print materials to help them develop their language and literacy skills," said Elliott Friedlander, senior specialist in basic education and literacy research for Save the Children.

Teachers, Community Volunteers to Make Storybooks Using Students' Sketches

Save the Children partners with teachers and community volunteers to create books on culturally-appropriate topics in local languages, and using local materials, including reproductions of the workshop illustrations.

"Thanks to the creative talents of the students at Sacred Heart Summer School, Save the Children is closer to bringing the joy of reading to more young children around the globe," said Friedlander.

Since its launch in 2008, Save the Children's Literacy Boost program has reached nearly 66,000 young readers in more than 250 schools in eight countries, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Pakistan and Uganda. The agency is expanding its program this year to Burundi, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton was founded in 1898 by the Society of the Sacred Heart (RSCJ) and is located on a 63-acre campus in Atherton, California. It is the only accredited preschool through twelfth grade school along the San Francisco peninsula with a total enrollment of approximately 1070 students on one campus. The School is a member of the Network of Sacred Heart Schools with 22 institutions in the United States; the Network continues the educational mission of the RSCJ whose members serve in over 44 countries.

Tutorpedia: Founded by two public high school teachers in 2009, The Tutorpedia Foundation's mission is to provide high-quality, personalized tutoring and related education services to underserved students. We carefully match students (grades K-12) with exceptional tutors, mentors, and instructors who are experts in their content areas and pedagogy. Instruction is student-centered and individualized, improving not only grades and test scores, but also student confidence and motivation. The Foundation believes that personalized, collaborative relationships are the key to closing achievement gaps, graduating more students from high school, and preparing more students for college, work, and life. Since its inception, Tutorpedia Foundation has provided more than 6,000 hours of tutoring and instruction to over 300 low-income and underperforming Bay Area students at no cost to the students or their families.