USAID Finds Creative Ways to Get Kids Interested in Reading During COVID-19 

Speeches Shim

Friday, July 30, 2021
Zaliko Sulakauri

USAID supports Georgia to build a stronger education system at all levels, from primary schools to universities, to the vocational sector. That includes working closely with the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia to support education reforms to help teachers and school administrators deliver student-centered education in the primary grades of all of Georgia’s public schools.

Under our support for education reform, we are also helping raise awareness about key topics in education, and helping Georgian students continue the learning process under difficult COVID-19 conditions.

During the first half of 2021, the USAID Basic Education Program launched “Book Buddies,” an online activity to encourage children to continue reading while staying at home. Prominent members of Georgian society volunteered to participate, reading children’s books that were livestreamed on social media. Guests included Nugzar Kvashali, an actor and musician, Zaliko Sulakauri, a prominent artist, and Irma Khetsuriani, a para-fencing world champion.

The live readings were broadcasted using an innovative method. One side of the screen showed the reader, while the other side showed the text scrolling in real-time, allowing viewers to both listen and read along. 

“When someone reads aloud to children, it improves their reading and learning skills,” said Tata Tchanturia, a reading specialist with the USAID Basic Education Program. Tata was involved in selecting the books and filming the Book Buddies’ videos. “Reading is the key to success on a personal level and the foundation for professional development.”

Maia Abazashvili, the mother of a third grader, credited the videos with helping her kids stay interested in reading. “My son and my pre-school daughter watched all the Book Buddies videos together. Their favorite was ‘Reverse Boy.’ After watching the video, we would talk about the book to see if any of the characters reminded us of people in our lives,” Maia said.

Irma Khetsuriani, who volunteered to read one of the books, commented that “I participated in this activity because I wanted to demonstrate that reading is important in every profession. I never thought that reading books would be so important in my fencer’s career, but there are many guides that I must read. The development of reading and literacy-related skills in the early grades builds a strong foundation for students’ future success.”

Book Buddies is just one just way that USAID is helping Georgia’s basic education students to continue the learning process during the COVID-19 pandemic. While it’s crucial that students develop skills in reading and mathematics, it is just as important to learn that education can be fun and interactive - and that learning truly is a lifelong activity. 

 

Last updated: September 23, 2021

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