Creating and Sustaining Literate Environments

With the nationwide implementation of DepEd Order No. 74, s. 2009 (institutionalizing the use of the mother tongue as medium of instruction from kindergarten to grade 3) in all public schools, as well as, Republic Act 10157 or the Kindergarten Law this school year, we’re expecting a dramatic improvement in literacy among the young. It is hoped that the following UNESCO publication, “Creating and Sustaining Literate Environments“, will provide the appropriate guidance and motivation for our teachers to encourage our learners to effectively apply their acquired literacy skills in their practical daily lives.

The following is an excerpt from “Creating and Sustaining Literate Environments”:

Reading is the foundation of all learning. Its importance led some countries to make reading a national priority. The Philippine Department of Education declared its reading motto as “Learn to Read. Read to Learn.” The reading battle cry of the Samoan Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture is “Healthy reading for a healthy future.”

Reading not only leads to the development of literacy skills. It also affects the thinking and actions of learners. Some of its benefits include the following:

  • Reading exercises the mind. As a mental exercise, reading stretches the memory muscles, thus improving memory. It keeps the mind active enabling it to absorb more information.
  • Reading develops critical thinking. Reading improves concentration and focus. It enables learners to ponder on the things they read and develops their critical thinking skills. Learners eventually are able to interpret and analyze issues or events, making them better decision-makers.
  • Reading boosts self-esteem. Reading enhances the self-confidence of learners. They become more self-assured about their ability to understand, question, and appreciate various aspects of life.
  • Reading improves reflective writing. Reading increases the knowledge of learners and expands their vocabulary. Exposure to words helps them become reflective writers.
  • Reading increases understanding and sensitivity. Reading broadens the horizon of learners cultivating their understanding and sensitivity towards people from all walks of life.

Given these benefits, a strong reading culture has become a desired outcome of having dynamic, stimulating, and rich literate environments.

Developing a reading culture fosters a love for reading and a habit of reading among learners. A literate environment with a strong reading culture is characterized by the following:

Learners have opportunities to develop and utilize their literacy skills through authentic tasks and activities in the home, school, and community;

Learners use their literacy skills to interact with others, make decisions, draw conclusions, and understand the dynamics of their surroundings;

Learners have control over the use of their literacy skills such as what, when, and how to read and write;

Learners are motivated to read because of the intrinsic rewards reading brings and not because of external incentives; and

Learners aspire to learn new things and actively participate in their community.

Developing a reading culture builds on the notion of transformative literacy and attitudes that value the importance of lifelong learning. It makes a difference in the life and future of a person and of an entire community (Torres, 2006). This is a vision that should be shared by all sectors of a community.

Click here for the complete “Creating and Sustaining Literate Environments” article.

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