A big challenge in education is not only teaching children how to read – it’s getting them to enjoy it too! Their appreciation of reading will expand their minds and take them to many places. Building these skills is particularly important in communities where opportunities are scarce and the reality is painted with multiple social problems.
It is crucial to develop these skills at early stages of life. Therefore, DevTech, through its CARS Activity implemented with funding from USAID on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua, is using children’s story writing as a means to improve reading, writing and comprehension skills of girls and boys from first to third grade in eight municipalities. This will allow them to better communicate, advocate, and interpret their constant interactions with the world.
Every year since 2015, DevTech has organized story contests to reinforce basic reading skills, to reflect on a given topic, and to engage parents or caregivers in their children’s educational process. Throughout the years, indigenous, Afro-descendants, and mestizo girls and boys ages 6 through 8 actively participated of the writing contest. From 2015 to 2018, the creative and enthusiastically young writers have produced over 270 stories – sending their imagination soaring, as they narrate about values, dreams, and access to new opportunities through reading.
Jamal Christopher Hodgson, a 9-year-old Afro-descendant, is one of the young writers who participated in 2018. He excelled with his story entitled “Un personaje llamado Gladston” in which he narrates a story about a famous street vendor from the city of Bluefields, who by example fuelled entrepreneurship among the youth of that city. Jamal not only showcased his skills, but also shared his love for writing.
On June 19, 2019, DevTech organized a second celebration for young writers like Jamal. USAID/Nicaragua Mission Director Ted Gehr participated in this event. He handed out certificates to these young writers, as well as a copy of the book “Stories and Narrations of the Multicultural Children of the Southern Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua”, which includes all stories written by them. The event was well attended by more than 100 children, parents, teachers, school directors and partner organizations.
DevTech has implemented different strategies and methodologies that strengthen reading and writing skills of these students. It has also trained teachers, equipped schools with educational materials, supported community development for safer schools, and provided institutional strengthening to local non-governmental organizations (NGOs). To date, DevTech has reached 26,133 students, trained 1,683 teachers, and delivered over a hundred thousand educational materials, including story books and teachers guides.