According to the UN, 750 million adults are illiterate and two-thirds of them are women. For families living in poverty, formative early teaching moments like reading stories or identifying letters and words are impossible because parents themselves aren’t equipped to lead them.
This was the case for Tatiana and her mom, Carmen, in Ecuador (pictured above). Carmen, who estimates her age at 46, but isn’t sure because she doesn’t remember her exact date of birth, only received a first grade education before going to work herself as a little girl to help support her family.
"We were eight siblings and had to work weeding or planting rice and corn," Carmen says. Unable to read or write, Carmen struggled to take care of her children on her small income.
After her brother Franklin went to work on a cocoa farm, the family could afford to send Tatiana to school. At 7 years old, she was enrolled in the second grade even though she couldn't read or write and had never been exposed to a classroom before. She could barely keep up and dreaded going to school each day."
“She didn’t even know how to write the letter ‘a’,” Carmen said.
You can imagine how frustrated Tatiana was when she returned home every day. She felt completely lost and incapable of participating in class. In tears, she told her mother she never wanted to go back to school. Carmen felt her own shame, knowing she had no way of helping because she was illiterate herself.
Things changed when Carmen learned about the tutoring program Children International offers. Led by teachers or older volunteer students who know the children personally and care about their success, tutors receive training to help ensure the quality of instruction and support.
Students typically attend 2-3 sessions a week that last an hour or so. Additionally, staff talks with parents to check on their children’s progress and to encourage their involvement and support. With an emphasis on math and language, on top of such a supportive Children International team, Tatiana would get the help she needed at their local community center.
92% of participants increased proficiency in literacy and math
Carmen’s confidence was warranted. Our reporting shows that 92% of Children International kids have an increased proficiency in literacy and math.
Little by little, local staff taught her to repeat the letters and, in only two months, Tatiana learned to read.
Tatiana continues to visit the community center to get tutoring support and continue her education. With access to benefits like a computer lab and library, her literacy skills are bound to improve and Tatiana can better prepare for a life she deserves.
And for both Tatiana and her mother, the future looks brighter than ever.