LAOS — World Vision’s iREAD project in Laos, which is funded by the Japanese government, is making a positive impact despite the pandemic-related educational challenges faced during 2021. According to World Vision, children supported by the project “are showing outstanding progress in reading skills, an encouraging sign for 2022.”
Before the pandemic, many children in Laos were already in fragile situations. Nearly a third of children did not attend school, and a World Vision survey shows that one in six children felt hopeless for their future. Challenges during the pandemic, such as school closures and remote learning with very limited internet access deepened their plight.
But World Vision and the iREAD Project forged ahead, and there is new hope for children in Laos as schools reopen. Since its inception in 2019, iREAD has directly supported 1,458 students and 34 teachers in Laos. The program works closely with education authorities, teachers, communities, parents and children to improve reading skills. World Vision also provides vital materials and books to encourage reading improvement. As a result, the percentage of grade-3 students able to read with comprehension increased from 5 percent in 2020 to 28 percent in 2021 when supported by iREAD, compared to only a 6-percent increase among students outside of the program.
As part of the community aspect of the project, World Vision trained 48 reading volunteers to run community reading programs after school. It also organized various community events to increase parent involvement in their children’s education. These reading groups and events provide children with additional literacy opportunities and increase caregivers’ understanding of the importance of literacy in their children’s lives.
Through helping develop crucial reading skills, iREAD, says World Vision, can “equip children with all the necessary skills to face today and tomorrow’s challenges and empower parents and teachers with the tools and training they need to give their children the opportunity to shine.” According to World Vision, “With access to a quality education, children become lifelong learners, transform their communities and experience life in all its fullness.”
About World Vision
World Vision was founded in 1947. According to its website, “As a global Christian relief, development and advocacy organization, we help children, families and communities overcome poverty and injustice, irrespective of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.” World Vision works in places where it’s hardest to be a child, believing that is where the nonprofit’s help is needed most, so vulnerable children can experience God’s promise of life in all its fullness. “Our collective efforts create a rising tide of goodness that provides each child an opportunity to reach their true potential,” says the organization.
 “Back to school: A new hope for Lao children.” World Vision. December 15, 2021. https://www.wvi.org/newsroom/laos/back-school-new-hope-lao-children.