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Literacy gems

Julie Saetre | Aug 04, 2017

Students and readers work together to improve literacy. Struggling students keep pace with their peers. And that’s akay!

Among the second- and third-grade children enrolled at Chrysanthemum Village Elementary School in San Pedro, Laguna, Philippines, 33 have some sort of reading deficiency. For some, it’s difficult to read syllables. Others don’t even recognize the alphabet.

Members of the Kiwanis Club of Laguna Gems, San Pedro, Laguna wanted to change that statistic. After consulting with school staff, they launched the A Kiwanian and You (AKAY) program. The name is appropriate, says Nicasia “Nikki” Canchela, past president and current club member, because in local parlance, akay means to guide or lend a helping hand.

The initiative is pressing, she says. The country’s department of education has adopted a policy of advancing all students to the next grade level, regardless of knowledge attained. And many children’s parents struggle to make ends meet at home.
“Some (children) go to school with no food or very little food in their stomachs,” Canchela says, “and are thus malnourished, resulting in poor comprehension or absenteeism.”

The Kiwanians address both academic and physical issues. They use flash cards, an alphabet chart, pictures and other tools to teach reading skills, and after the lessons, members of the school’s K-Kids Club distribute healthy snacks.

The results are inspiring. All participants showed some level of improvement. Some were reading sentences—in English, no less—by the school year’s end, and even the ones starting at the biggest disadvantage made progress.

“On day one, there were grade-three pupils who couldn’t recognize a vowel or consonant, but in the succeeding sessions they could at least read a letter or a vowel, which encouraged us to attend to them and to slow learners on a one-on-one basis,” Canchela says.

When classes begin again after school break, Kiwanians will be back in the classrooms as well.

“The members feel there is an urgent need to attend to these pupils in reading literacy,” Canchela explains. “And this legacy of the present leadership will always be in the history of this hard-working club.”


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