Yadiel’s story and photos were originally documented by Gabriela Read, Communication Officer for Proyecto Leer.
In San Francisco Arriba, a region in the Dominican Republic, World Vision staff have an excellent assistant with them. Nine-year-old Yadiel Jesus has attended the homework club for a year now and has not only managed to gain the skills and moral support he needed to pass third grade, but has become the club’s newest (and youngest) facilitator, helping to keep order in the classroom and delivering supplies to his classmates.
“He is the one who can read the most, so he sits next to the notebooks, identifies the names of his classmates in the notebooks and calls on them to hand them out,” says Carmen Julia Taveras, one of the facilitators.
Yadiel has made incredible progress, but school hasn’t always been easy for him. He has difficulty moving around due to an infection in his spine, so he must use a wheelchair. He also faces other health problems, which forced him to have to miss school often in the last two years.
As a result, he could not keep up with his classmates. But the support he received in the homework club allowed him to overcome the reading and writing difficulties he had as a result of his absences.
Story time: ensuring all kids have access to education
At World Vision, we believe that education is a right for all children. In the DR, World Vision is implementing a USAID-funded $7 million sub-award in partnership with UNIBE to improve early grade reading instruction and support in 200 schools located in the country’s Duarte corridor. World Vision’s after-school homework clubs, led by members of the community, are a prime example of the ways we are supporting children with the tools they need to excel in the classroom.
“[Yadiel] improved a lot in writing and reading,” says Dolores Ferreira. She had supported Yadiel the previous year, so she’s seen his progress first-hand. “When he came to third grade he did not know how to read. He already knows how to read words and his writing has improved a lot.”
Welcoming kids with disabilities to the classroom
Despite being a middle-income country, more than 40 percent of families in the Dominican Republic live in poverty. Like many developing countries, children with disabilities find themselves on the edge of the education system and are not provided with the support they need to gain knowledge and skills fundamental to their development.
There are about 31,000 children and adolescents living with some form of disability in the Dominican Republic, and 20 percent of these do not attend school, according to data from MINERD’s Directorate of Special Education.
Beyond the physical barriers that can prevent their access to education spaces, it remains a national challenge for these children to feel welcome in classrooms and receive quality, specialized treatment.
Yadiel’s grandmother, who is his primary caretaker, was concerned he would not make friends or be able to get around, but the teachers shared that his classmates in the club are very affectionate toward Yadiel: “We had to tell them… ‘do not hug him so much,’ they fought to help him out and move around the classroom,” says Aura Elina Mena, another facilitator.
Overcoming global barriers to reading
Worldwide, more than half of children and adolescents are not meeting minimum proficiency standards in reading and mathematics. Because of inadequate teacher training, high ratios of students to teachers, insufficient teaching materials in native languages, poverty, and inadequate policies to support the completion of school, millions of children around the world cannot read or write. These barriers are disturbing every child’s right to a quality education and ability to learn, grow, and thrive.
The USAID-funded READ project is a five-year project that uses evidence-based methods of teaching literacy and delivers them through an innovative program of teacher training and mentoring. The project also provides adequate reading materials — all of which directly impact children’s ability to learn to read.
Through this project, World Vision has reached over 20,000 elementary children through community-based education support programs and supplementary reading materials. Each year, we identify at least 4,000 second and third grade students with special needs. We then provide them with targeted support to improve their learning. With your help, we can continue to advocate for these children in partnership with both the U.S. and local governments.
“My classmates treated me very well. I taught them, I helped them and they took me out to the break”, says Yadiel. “I feel happy, I did not know how to read well and in the club, they taught me.”
“Yadiel was very behind schedule, but he made a lot of progress”, says his grandmother. “He liked the club so much that he asked me to send him back for the next one.”