Mestawet: Story of a Little Bookworm

Friday 27 April 2018

 Improving reading and writing skills in Ethiopia


Mestawet, a second grader in a small town called Fitche in Oromia region, has been reading READ CO (Reading for Ethiopia’s Achievement Developed Community Outreach)- supported supplementary reading materials since December 2016. Before she started practicing reading in reading camps, classroom, Reading and Writing Club and at home, she had struggled to read due to lack of enough books. Mestawet has progressively shown substantial improvement since she started practicing reading.  She came first in her class during the first semester of the current academic year. 

“My dream is to follow the footsteps of my big sister, Almaz, who is a second year university student. I always want to be like her and do better in my education. When I grow up, I want to be a teacher”, says Mestawet who has now turned into the voracious reader she has aimed to be. “I have borrowed and read about 14 titles since February 2018. I always read stories at home right after I have dinner. I read about many things including vegetables, fruits, traditional attires, domestic animals and wild animals as well. I love reading books and will always remain a reader.  My big brother is also in grade 2 and he is a good reader too”, says Mestawet, who seems to be living up to the morals she learned from her favourite story titled “Hardworking Girl”. 

The credit goes to her parents who provided her time and opportunities to become an excellent student. Her father, who always wanted her to excel at her studies, understands her love for books is extraordinary. He witnesses that her hands are hardly without an open book. Even though he happens to be illiterate, he supports her by buying books she wants and by giving her more space and time to read. He is very proud that his daughter got recognition as best reader in their community and in her school. She was also awarded with a couple of books for making it to the top-twenty best readers from grade 1-4 in her school.


Mestawet (middle) gets support from her father (left) and her mother Mesert (right) in her reading efforts.


Not only does Mestwet get support from her father, her mother Mesert, also supports her in her reading efforts. “I do not bother whether she supports me or not with household chores, because I always want her to achieve great things”, says Mesert. “She reads stories to us which I enjoy because the stories are interesting and I didn’t have such experience growing up. Her heart dwells amongst the leaves of the books. Even when she is requested what she wants to be bought for her, she has always asked for more books”, comments Meseret.   

Mestawet’s progress amazes her teacher. Her reading skill and motivation to learn is completely different from what her teacher had experienced with her previous students. According to her teacher, Mestawet has turned out to be a fast learner; she is also great at reading and she never skipped on her homework. In fact, it is because of her skills that her teacher assigned her as a group leader in classroom Reading &Writing club, so that she can support other children who have rooms for improvement with regard to reading. Mestawet’s teacher, who wants to see more children like Mestawet, vehemently expresses her gratitude toward USAID and Save the Children who are providing the books and supporting the school & the community. 

Save the Children, under the leadership of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Education, has been implementing USAID’s four-year long  READ-CO project since January 2015. The project aims to improve the reading and writing skills of children by developing and providing new supplementary reading materials and creating opportunities for children to practice these skills at school, home and elsewhere within the community. Implemented in 96 Woredas in Amhara, Oromia, Tigray, Somali and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ (SNNP) regions and 2,488 primary schools, the READ CO project is currently reaching 962,757 children in grades 1-4.