Reading is quite possibly the most fundamental component to furthering subsequent education. In fact, it is the gateway that allows individuals to tap into knowledge embedded within their respective cultures. Regrettably, it is often girls who face the biggest challenges in the classroom, particularly in more traditional cultures. To address this challenge, local universities and NGOs are working together, with support from bilateral donors, to strengthen early grade reading with a focus on increasing gender awareness. At a recent workshop, (part of our work on LAC ED,) the organizations gathered to enhance pedagogical skills and increase gender sensitivity in one of Peru’s most impoverished regions.
Ucayali and San Martin, the two regions of focus, sit in the transition zone where the Andes meet the Amazon. Steeped in beauty and rich cultural heritage, these two regions are emblematic of the natural splendor found in Peru. However, what is often left out of view are the resources required to achieve educational objectives at a standard necessary for development. Moreover, literacy and school completion rates are greatly imbalanced between genders, boys experiencing the positive side of the asymmetry.
To address this, SSG and local partners implemented two, three-day reading and gender workshops in these regions. The workshops were intended to strengthen pedagogical approaches and technical knowledge and skills in early childhood reading and gender education. Participants attending the workshops work within one of the two regional government educational departments and a local NGO. These educational professionals are in a unique position to influence curriculum, classroom management, and teaching techniques of the teachers and the schools where they work.
Each workshop was characterized by participatory, experiential knowledge building and skills development activities. Participants not only strengthened their own capacities, but also developed mechanisms to monitor and evaluate the implementation of these skills in the classroom. Additionally, the trainings provided space to collect information regarding the external technical assistance needed to accomplish educational goals, an essential component to developing future programs in the region.
There are many obstacles to education such as crime and insecurity, family dynamics, and poverty. However, these workshops helped topple some obstacles by addressing gender and early childhood reading, two crosscutting themes that have the propensity to reinforce the improvement of other social conditions, that without, would make development a much more challenging task.