Prensa Libre (January 11, 2013)
As Guatemalan schools begin the 2013 academic school year this month, teachers across the country are expected to implement a new reading program, entitled “Leamos Juntos” (the literal translation of which is “We Read Together”), aimed to promote reading and to involve students, teachers, families, and communities in the development of reading. The program has in common characteristics of earlier reading reforms from 2006 and 2011 – which, among their goals, served to promote healthy reading habits within families as well as to maintain Guatemalan oral traditions – and is a response to an “Ibero-American Educational Cooperation” conference) held last October 2012 . Within that conference, Spanish-speaking countries vowed to prepare a reading plan for the furthering of literacy in their schools.
With 90M Quetzales (a little over $11M) invested in the reform, one primary component of the program involves a normalized half-hour of reading per day within classrooms as a way to foment a love of reading among students. The money, borrowed from the International Development Bank, will be used for four purposes: 1) the purchase of 4.5M books, 2) materials to safeguard and deliver books to schools, 3) infrastructure for the storage of books, and 4) the eventual printing of e-books donated by UNESCO.
The Guatemalan Ministry of Education has created a national commission on reading as well as departmental commissions that are in charge of their respective educational centers and schools (both public and private). These commissions are expected to devise the human resources necessary to follow through with the promotion as well as effective methods – including a systemization of “good reading practices” – for teachers to help children with acquiring and developing their reading skills. Those departmental commissions are also in charge of their own resources and materials, presumably divided from the investments mentioned previously.
Additionally the reform calls for a commission of integrated school reading that includes the director of the institution, two teachers, two parent representatives, and two students whose responsibilities include ensuring the appropriate use of materials (ensuring that they’re organized by theme, type, language, etc.). Teachers in all institutions have the major responsibility of carrying out lessons that involve student participation and activities related to the reading. Finally, periodic evaluations of reading departments, institutions, and areas are a part of the reform.
– Contributed by Tran Templeton
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