Once a READ Center is established, we partner with local NGOs, governments, and community organizations to offer training programs. Click on the tabs for each program area below to learn more:

Education

53%

of people in South Asia are illiterate.1

Illiteracy

 

READ Centers provide holistic education for villagers of all ages and backgrounds. Literacy is often the first step, opening doors to trainings in livelihoods and technology. A majority of people in South Asia live in rural areas that lack access to educational resources. So every READ Center has a library, computer room, training hall, and AV section. The Centers also have designated children's and women's sections, with specialized resources. Through partnerships, we also provide educational trainings:

  • Literacy: Adult literacy courses, activities that promote habit of reading, and study groups give villagers a second chance to learn basic skills that can change their lives. Our programming is centered on creating a culture of learning.

  • Health: READ Centers provide information on preventative health, such as sanitation, hygiene, nutrition, preventable diseases, and sexual and reproductive health.
  • Children’s programs: READ Centers have sections specifically for children, featuring books for early readers, and educational games and toys. We provide children’s programs such as art workshops, environmental education, and reading groups.

  • Youth support: READ Centers support school-age youth by loaning out school textbooks and tablets, and by offering support in tutoring, homework, and exam preparation.

Our impact at a glance: A large majority of centers users (99% in Bhutan, 75% in India, and 67% in Nepal) said they would not otherwise have access to information they obtained at their READ Center. READ Centers are often the only resource of its kind in rural villages. Learn more about our impact data here.

[1]UNESCO

Economic

67%

of people in South Asia live on less than $2 a day.1

Money

 

READ Centers provide educational resources and training programs focused on creating livelihoods and building financial literacy. 70% of people in South Asia live in rural communities; a majority of those people live below the poverty line. We provide villagers with skills that enable them to earn a living without having to migrate to urban areas, so they can invest in their families and the development of their communities.

  • Livelihood skills training: We partner with local experts to provide skills trainings to rural villagers so they can earn or increase their income, in areas like sewing and weaving, fish and poultry farming, organic agriculture, and hospitality training.
  • Small business skills training: Training in financial literacy, marketing, and management helps villagers successfully run their own micro-enterprises and manage their finances.
  • Sustaining enterprises: With each READ Center, we also launch a business that generates profit to support the Center’s ongoing operating costs. Enterprises range from agricultural and sewing cooperatives, to storefront rentals.
  • Savings cooperatives: In Nepal, most READ Centers operate savings cooperatives that enable women to deposit savings for the first time, and apply for loans to start their own businesses.

Our impact at a glance: 86% of villagers surveyed in India and 76% in Nepal increased their income after taking a livelihood skills training at a READ Center. They report spending this income on healthcare, their children’s education, and food for their families. In Bhutan, we have just begun formal economic empowerment programming, and anticipate similar outcomes in the future. Learn more about our impact data here.

[1]World Bank

Technology

40%

of rural South Asia has no access to electricity.1

Electricity

 

READ Centers provide free access to computers and the Internet, where possible, as well as trainings in information communications technology (ICT). A majority of rural villagers in South Asia have unreliable access to computers or none at all, so we aim to bridge this digital divide:

  • Computers and the Internet: Trainings in typing, Internet use, and word processing help rural villagers access information, communicate online, and become more competitive for jobs.
  • Mobile and radio: Training programs use cell phones and local radio as tools to create and disseminate information on agriculture, health, and more. This helps bring information to rural villagers who lack access to computers, or who cannot use them due to illiteracy.
  • Online educational content: We are piloting ways to use the Internet to improve educational outcomes and livelihoods. In Nepal, we are creating online content databases for students and farmers. In Bhutan, we use tablets and educational games to engage kids. In India, we offer distance learning courses for University students.
  • Sustainable hardware and alternative energy: We are installing solar panels and low-energy hardware in many Centers to reduce costs and provide a more dependable source of electricity, allowing villagers to use technology on a more regular basis.

Our impact at a glance: More than two-thirds of villagers surveyed have used technology at READ Centers to access information about livelihoods. Learn more about our impact data here.

[1]International Energy Agency

Women

130 million

girls in South Asia will be married as children by 2030.1

Girls

 

READ Centers offer women and girls a safe space to gather, learn, and advocate. Often, women in South Asia must ask permission from their husbands to leave home for reasons other than child care or farm work. But because libraries are viewed as safe, neutral places, women can go to READ Centers independently to access literacy, livelihood skills, and technology training, as well as specialized educational resources. This helps women build their confidence and decision-making power:

  • Leadership development: Trainings in confidence building and civic participation equip women with skills to become leaders in their families and communities.
  • Women's and family health: READ Centers provide specialized health information and workshops for women, including family planning and sexual and reproductive health.
  • Gender sensitization: Training and focus group discussions on gender norms and women’s legal rights are offered for both men and women.
  • Women's groups: Self-help groups, savings cooperatives, and reading groups give women the chance to meet, discuss, and learn new skills. All READ Centers have women’s sub-committees to help manage programs and resources.

Our impact at a glance: Women’s decision-making power in healthcare, family planning, and children’s education has increased for 68% of women surveyed in India, and 62% in Nepal. Learn more about our impact data here.

[1]130 million girls in South Asia will be married as children by the age of 18, if present trends continue. - UNFPA