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Liberia: The benefits of reading along with your girl child at home

It’s six o’clock in the evening and 17-year-old Rita Plator has just finished household chores. She picks her textbook and sits on her study chair to read, along with her father, Moses Plator. Mr. Plator has been reading books with Rita and his other three children for the past 15 years.

He explains: “Reading can be a stable source of information throughout a child’s life. It allows the children to access manuscripts in a constant manner, and it is also beneficial for children that are growing up in challenging environments.”

Mr. Plator lives in Gbarnga, the capital city of Bong county in north-central Liberia. He has four children, two boys and two girls, who have been practicing reading with him since they were young.

As a father and a teacher for over 15 years, Mr. Plator has practical experience and believes that there are profound benefits of reading along with his girl child. Educating her is his priority as a parent.

He says that parents should always invest more effort in educating their girls. Mr. Plator explains, “The first thing we need to do is to spend time with our children at home despite the busy work schedule parents usually have on a weekly basis.”

He adds: “When we allocate time, we become committed to reading with our children. And after two to three years, the children will develop reading skills. You will later realize that the child’s intellectual ability will improve if you are committed to this.”

Alice Garmo, a mother of five children in Gbarnga, has also been reading along with her children. She believes education is important and that it should start in the family from an early age.

Mrs. Garmo says, “The family’s role is very important in the process of educating children. [But] many parents are just unable to spend the required reading time with their children at home.”

According to Mrs. Garmo, when parents educate their girls, the girls stand a chance of fully participating and positively contributing to development in society.

She explains: “When I was growing up as a child, I always loved to be around my parents. I was not attending extra study classes in the community because my parents were nurturing me by teaching me how to read, among other lessons.”

She adds: “I later realized that my academic performance was improving. My parents and I became very proud. Almost everywhere, the principal was mentioning me as a best-performing student at the school.”

Mrs. Garmo says that because of her parents’ support of her education during her tender age, she was able to compete with boys in her classes. She adds: “Because of my good performance in class, there was a time when my parents were relieved of paying school fees because the school told them only to pay registration fees rather than tuition, mainly because I was able to compete with boys.”

Mascelina Marshall Paye is another parent in Gbarnga who is passionate about children’s education. She says that parents should always pay a lot of attention to building their children’s reading skills in order to make them vibrant future leaders.

Mrs. Paye says, “I recommend that government should put measures [in place] that will help to make it possible for all parents to prioritize their girl children’s education.”

Lucia Fahnbulleh is a young female student in her final year of secondary school. She is also a social gender advocate in Liberia and has benefitted a lot from her parents’ reading along with her since childhood.

She says: “I grew up with my parents who have been spending time with me teaching me how to read and write. I have been taught many things throughout the time we spent together. My performance in school improved a lot because of my parents’ consistency towards my education.”

David Bar Gbokay is the Resident District Education Officer in Liberia. He says that parents should focus on educating their girls by supporting them in reading, amongst other things.

He explains: “Empowering these young girls will not only give parents self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth, but it will bring economic benefits to their community. On many occasions, when a girl earns her education, she is most likely to return to her community to make a difference.”

Mr. Plator is happy to see that many parents in his area are now aware that reading together with children is beneficial for their academic future. He adds, “Most parents have started taking some time out to read along with their girls in their homes. The importance of reading cannot be overestimated.”

This resource is undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada. Distance Learning in Crisis is implemented in partnership with CODE, TALLE, and WE-CARE.