“I was surprised and pleased to see that struggling readers jumped at the opportunity to read aloud during class.”

At Jezzine Primary School in the mountains of south Lebanon, first-grade Arabic language teacher Mary Bou-Rached picks two students every week to read stories aloud to their classmates and ask comprehension questions.

Jezzine Primary School is one of 887 primary public schools in Lebanon receiving support from USAID’s education sector programs Quality Instruction Towards Access and Basic Education Improvement (QITABI) 1 and 2.

Working with Lebanon’s Ministry of Education and the Center for Educational Research and Development, World Learning and USAID reach more than 338,000 students in grades 1 to 6 through the full QITABI program. Jezzine Primary School is among 30 schools selected by the ministry to receive additional, tailored support for students with special educational needs.

“The read-aloud sessions invite students to express themselves, interact with other students, and actively participate during class,” says Bou-Rached. “I was surprised and pleased to see that struggling readers jumped at the opportunity to read aloud during class.”

QITABI’s literacy specialists say reading aloud is important for reading success. It provides children with a demonstration of reading fluency, builds the listeners’ interest in books, and improves comprehension. Reading aloud encourages children from an early age to adopt reading as a lifelong learning activity.

To ensure that each student receives the support needed to improve their reading skills, USAID has provided a library inside each classroom that includes read-aloud and leveled reading books selected by experts.

“My students look forward every week to participating in the read-aloud sessions,” says Olga El Helou, a second- and third-grade Arabic language teacher at Jezzine Primary School. “They love to pick storybooks from QITABI’s classroom library and play the role of the storyteller in reading aloud to their classmates.”

Under the QITABI 2 program, each classroom also received a set of interactive e-storybooks that let students hear correct pronunciation by native and professional speakers.

QITABI 2 also provides support for language teachers including training on a balanced literacy approach, coaching by trained mentors who observe teachers during classroom sessions, and access to in-school trained learning facilitators.

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