“Progress lost takes years to regain. Teenage girls out of school may never return.”
Those are the recent words of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, urging the world to pay attention to the disproportionate vulnerability of women and girls resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Like Guterres, I am asking for your attention, and for your help.
A UN policy brief published last week on the impact of COVID-19 on women says, “Evidence from past epidemics shows that adolescent girls are at particular risk of drop out and not returning to school even after the crisis is over.”
Participants in our Girls’ Education Program often live in low-income, isolated rural areas, making them especially likely to be forced to give up their educations permanently as a result of this crisis.
But with you behind us, we can help girls around the world protect their futures.
Our team is currently taking measures to deliver our life skills activities and mentoring via video or telephone so girls have the critical support they need to stand strong, continue learning and navigate new challenges.
We’re designing new ways to support girls with distance learning, helping them to not lose sight of the importance of continuing school, and to further develop and apply key life skills like empathy, critical thinking and perseverance.
Girls will need these skills now more than ever before to cope with these challenging times, resist the societal pressures to marry young and drop out of school, and support their families and communities to rebuild a better world.
Will you help us adapt our program and support vulnerable girls by making a matched gift today? Our match has been extended thanks to generous supporters who care deeply about gender equality. Your help is urgently needed and your gift will go twice as far.
As Secretary-General Guterres says, “Gender equality and women’s rights are essential to getting through this pandemic together, to recovering faster, and to building a better future for everyone.”
Thank you so much for all your support so far. We are deeply grateful to have such committed advocates for girls’ education making this crucial work possible.
Lucina Di Meco
Senior Director, Room to Read Girls’ Education Program
P.S. It costs less than a dollar a day to support a girl with her education. Any amount you can pitch in will make a difference. We don’t know how long this match will last, but right now a gift of $10 becomes $20, $50 becomes $100, $250 becomes $500, and on.
We would like to thank you for your understanding and support of Room to Read Japan’s activities.
The COVID 19 crisis occurring throughout the world and in Japan is heartbreaking and we hope that you are safe and surviving well. Room to Read and the Japan operations have been taking steps to keep its employees and partners safe while at the same time providing support to students at Room to Read facilities and elsewhere including sharing digital platform, Literacy Cloud, for books and other learning resources more broadly. We have been so inspired of the resilience, solidarity and positive attitude we see every day from Room to Read’s partners.
The Room to Read family would like to share our warmest wishes with you and hope that you know we’re all standing together.
We hope this video lightens up your day and will keep your spirits up as we overcome the challenging situation globally. Our team is thinking of you and I look forward to a time when we can celebrate our 20th Anniversary together.
In addition, Libraries and bookstores may be closed, but that doesn’t mean Storytime your children has to stop. We have released a library of celebrity read-aloud videos alongside LiteracyCloud, available for the first time publicly. The released materials will help children continue to develop the skill and habit of reading, despite COVID-19 related school closures. Started on April 7th, new read-alouds is released each week of April on our YouTube channel.
Stay home. Stay safe.
Eric & Ayako Golden, Tomoya & Yuri Masanao, Ben & Asami Ferguson, Theo & Susan Seltzer and Fred & Risa Towfigh – Room to Read Japan Board
Kaho Matsumaru & Reiko Imao – Room to Read Japan team
We are thinking of you as we all adapt to new circumstances, and millions of families look for ways to help their children continue to learn while out of school. Without question, we are in unprecedented times, and I wanted to take a moment to let you know how Room to Read is responding to the COVID-19 global health crisis.
Our goal is to prioritize health and safety, and do everything we can to ensure that the children we work with can continue their education. At the same time, we will continue our focus on maximizing every contribution to our organization by investors and operating with the same transparency and fiscal accountability we are known for.
According to the most recent data published today by UNESCO, 102 countries have closed primary through secondary schools nationwide. This represents more than 849.4 million primary and secondary students enrolled in those closed schools. Additionally, 11 countries have localized school closures. In nearly all countries where we have operations, there are partial or full public school closures.
Along with taking steps to keep our staff and communities safe, such as halting travel and implementing remote work options, we are taking the following steps to keep our programs and resources accessible:
Identifying opportunities to adapt our literacy and gender equality programming for distance learning, including professional development for teachers and mentoring for girls
Sharing our digital platform, Literacy Cloud, for books and other learning resources more broadly; we welcome you to use it and share these resources with your own children
Expanding our book supply chains, government partners and other local relationships to find ways to get books to children who cannot visit libraries
Monitoring the rapidly changing circumstances in every country and community in which we operate, following official public health guidelines and adapting mission-critical activities accordingly
Additionally, we know that when schools reopen after prolonged closures, there is often the need to help students catch up on lost learning. Sometimes this is in the form of accelerated learning programs or modifying curriculum and school year calendars to make up for lost time. We are working to find ways to share our knowledge and help children and their schools get back on track once schools reopen.
I’ve told you what we’re doing, but there’s one thing we’re not doing, and that is giving up on our students.
With so many children out of school, there has never been a more urgent need to facilitate learning. We are committed to ensuring that this crisis doesn’t result in a generation of children who lack basic reading skills. This pandemic is a sobering reminder that education is critical, and vulnerable communities need support. Only through education can people build the skills and resources they need to best respond to crises like the one we’re facing now, as a global community.
We are more committed than ever to building a future in which every child has access to quality education, and we’re deeply grateful for your support. Wishing you and your loved ones safety and fortitude during this challenging time.
Geetha Murali CEO, Room to Read
To help children continue to access the stabilizing force of education during this turbulent time, click here to make a donation.