Bridge Academy pupil during a literacy lesson

World Book Day is celebrated to promote reading, publishing and copyright. It was created in 1995 by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading aimed at repositioning reading as fun, relevant, accessible, exciting and life-transforming.

Reading introduces readers to a world of imagination and stimulates their creativity and analytical skills. It helps immensely with cognitive development of a child. When a child starts reading, they develop intelligence reasoning language information processing, which is why it is very important for children to learn reading.

Globally, reading is in crisis. According to World Bank Education, half of all children in low and middle income countries are in  “Learning Poverty” – defined as a child not being able to read or understand a simple text by age 10. In sub-Saharan Africa, it is far worse – a catastrophic 90% of 10-year-olds cannot read at this basic level. And the impact of the covid pandemic is expected to push another 72 million children globally into Learning Poverty. 

Bridge Nigeria, a network of nursery and primary schools serving underserved communities in Lagos and Osun states, considers reading and literacy to be foundational to a child’s learning. According to the Academics Manager, Ezinne Tochi-Asugwa, the practice of reading by young children daily can help with language acquisition, communication skills, social skills, and literacy skills. “Literacy and the ability to read is a skill that is vital to a child’s future success. The habit of reading should begin at an early stage and should be imbibed throughout one’s lifetime.” She said.

A literacy intervention program was introduced for primary one pupils across selected Bridge academies in Lagos as part of efforts to encourage children to cultivate the habit of reading and improve their literacy skills.

The pilot initiative tagged “Bridge Reading at Home” program involves primary one pupils taking home a postcard every Monday and Thursday and reading the text on the postcard aloud with their parents. The pupils would then answer the questions on the postcard to make sure they understood the text and sign their names on the postcard after the reading exercise.

Reacting to the initiative, a parent, Mrs. Bose Onifade commended Bridge for encouraging pupils to start the reading culture from an early age. According to her, the first thing her child does when he gets home after school is to read the stories on his postcard.

Nurturing a reading culture in children during their formative years, parents and caregivers must consciously stimulate children in that direction, provide them books and importantly, let them read for fun. Reading also helps in developing emotions like kindness, empathy which is being able to understand what people are going through. When kids read books, they can experience the lives of other characters and they can identify how they are feeling.

In previous World Book Day celebration, Bridge Nigeria’s support staff purchased storybooks and donated them to the community schools that they support each day. The books donated to the pupils included stories that promote strong cultural values and spread messages of kindness, integrity, curiosity and diversity.

Commenting on the donation, the Communication Manager, Femi Awopetu noted that the books were donated to enable pupils and parents carry on the culture of reading that Bridge fosters in its schools when they are in their homes. “The ability to read is a skill that is vital to a child’s future success. Reading expands the mind by developing a child’s imagination and engaging critical thinking skills.” He added.

Bridge Nigeria is a network of community schools creating opportunities for children to grow and explore their potential. Bridge’s mission is to provide millions of children with life-changing education and it does this by investing in teacher support and learning innovation, which transform learning outcomes for pupils.

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