Updated: May 26
At UOF's community center, Strive, the team is committed to making sure every child has the opportunity to learn to read. They offer a 3-hour morning reading program for children who cannot attend school due to financial constraints or family responsibilities. Additionally, some children may be out of school temporarily and need a safe environment to maintain their reading skills. With Strive's reading program, children have access to a supportive space where they can stay on track with their learning and avoid falling behind.
The program started in 2019 for children ages 6-12, although we do have some younger kids tag along with their older siblings, and runs Monday to Friday for three hours daily. Unlike schools, our program is free and with a smaller group (25 children maximum), so the fantastic team at Strive gets to really focus on those with the greatest need. Currently, 45 children attend each week and are broken into two groups based on their reading level.
“It is a safe environment for children to feel that they haven’t been left out,” said Angea Davis, the head of the program.
In Liberia, recreational reading isn’t something that many people do. It isn’t from a lack of interest or an inability to read but more a matter of social dynamics and exposure. At Strive's Reading Program, we encourage children to read for the pure joy of it. One of the ways we do this is by introducing guest readers to our students. The guest readers share their passion for books with the kids and help them see that reading can be done outside of the classroom and into later life.
This exposure gives children a role-model figure and helps them to see that reading can get you places. Last year, the former mayor of Monrovia, Clara Doe-Mvogo, spoke at one of our classes. The older girls were interested in her story and her passion for reading, which helped them to see the potential value it could have in their lives.
“She inspired the older girls, as they thought, ‘I really wish I could be like her,’ ” said Angea.