August 6, 2021

A woman in a white shirt and yellow cardigan stands looking at the camera in a classroom.
First-grade Arabic language teacher Mary Bou-Rached.

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

With 186 students, 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. The school is among 30 inclusive schools selected by Lebanon’s Ministry of Education to provide tailored support to 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.”

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

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 skills. Reading aloud encourages children from an early age to adopt reading as a lifelong learning activity.

“My students look forward every week to participate 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.”

A boy sits in front of his class reading a book to a group of children wearing masks.

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

USAID provides well-rounded teacher support that ensures Arabic language teachers follow international best practices. The support consists of teacher training on a balanced literacy approach, coaching by trained mentors that observe teachers during classroom sessions, and in-school support by trained learning facilitators.

In collaboration with Lebanon’s Ministry of Education and the Center for Educational Research and Development, the USAID QITABI program impacts the literacy and numeracy teaching and learning environments for more than 338,000 primary school students in grades 1 to 6.

USAID is offering the resources that Arabic language teachers need for reading success. Thus far, QITABI has provided more than 5,000 classroom libraries, with a total of more than 550,000 leveled reading books, 75,000 read-aloud books, and 25,000 e-stories.