The Kosovo Children’s Hidden Reading Comprehension Crisis

As a teacher, every time I enter the classroom, enchanting little faces of children stare me. This time, it was the children of my hometown, as I traveled there. I share a copy of the same book title with all the children in the classroom. They seem fascinated; it is a new experience for them – reading aloud a book together as a whole class.

kosovo children's crisisAfter some time, they are all reading, one by one, they look so happy! We make a stop to discuss what we’ve just read. We ask questions but they are afraid to answer. There is no active participation in the discussion.  The idea of having to analyze what has just been read looks challenging and stressful for these children.

One day, we walked down the stairs and ended up standing in front of a closed door. Another teacher opened the door, and said: Welcome to our school’s library! We found ourselves in the midst of a dark room, with few bookshelves, with little to no air, and a distinctive biblichor scent. Not from a large number of books, rather because they were very old. This room was similar to everything else, but not to a proper school library.

kosovo children's readingThe Library Project  Kosova -breaking the long silence

 

The 2015 PISA report in Kosovo revealed that Kosovo’s children performed the lowest in the reading part, with 146 points lower than the OECD average. Yet, the lack of continuous reading practices in class and the absence of school libraries in public primary schools, lead us to dig deeper into a hidden crisis -Kosovo’s children reading comprehension crisis.

Reading comprehension skills are vital to keeping the engagement of children in the learning process. Struggling to comprehend the text causes children to lose their confidence to read. Therefore, with the help of The Library Project Kosova teachers and pupils in Kosovo are being introduced to reading strategies. These strategies allow them to predict, generate questions, discuss and summarize the text. Additionally, increase access to appealing and proper books in school libraries is another strategy to keep engagement in reading.

Most importantly, reading should be promoted as a regular practice in the classrooms. This would not only encourage children to read more and equip them with the reading strategies to develop comprehension skills but would also help children who do not have a supportive learning environment at home. Last, but not least it would facilitate teacher’s efforts to achieve the national curriculum set learning results and competencies.

Kosovo children readingREA(d)CT

 

Kosovo’s education system needs to implement strategies to reduce functional illiteracy rates. More books, adequate school libraries, and promotion of reading practices would significantly heal the reading comprehension crisis. A good initiative is the Library Project Kosova. They are a non-profit organization playing a leading role in this field; they support children in Kosovo to improve their reading comprehension skills.

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