It was years in the making for Room to Read Vietnam. Back and forth with the various levels of education officials. Countless meetings, schools visits, negotiations, extensive research, and reams of paperwork. But finally, here they were, Room to Read Vietnam’s Program Director, Thuy Nguyen, and the Vice-Director of the Department of Education and Training of Vinh Long province, signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which would having lasting effects on the children and families in their community.
What was at stake was 30 minutes of reading time every week for over 3,700 primary school children in Vinh Long, one of five provinces along the Mekong Delta where Room to Read has programs. Thirty minutes a week to put away all other school work and just read, for the pure enjoyment of it.
Erin Ganju, Room to Read's Co-founder and CEO, fortuitously happened to be in Vietnam at the time of the MOU signing, which made the elaborate ceremony -- replete with multiple speeches and presentations -- even more special to the Vietnam staff. Our local teams cheered when the signatures on the document dried and the “reading period” program was officially launched.
The goal of a “reading period” is to improve the reading skills of primary school children, but to do it in a way that will help kids associate reading with fun. Our teams will work closely with 255 teachers to help them come up with creative ideas for reading period activities, including reading games like “guess what happens next” or “what if," play-writing and drawing pictures of story characters.
The "reading periods" will initially take place in 13 of our libraries every other week, but eventually the program will grow to weekly periods. We know that schools in other districts and provinces are eager to sign onto the program, and once this pilot program proves successful, we're looking forward to sharing!
Following the launch ceremony, our Vietnam team set the wheels in motion to get teachers trained, materials ordered and children on their way to reading. The staff has had many years to prepare for this moment, and they didn’t want to delay the program progress any longer. As the "reading period" proposal states, “We believe that dedicated reading periods in schools will set us on the path to reach our common dream of a New Generation of Young Readers.”