Aberdeen students launch initiative to help children around the world learn to read

Aberdeen students launch initiative to help children around the world learn to read

Aberdeen students have established a Europe-wide fundraising initiative with the charity, Room to Read to help improve educational opportunities for children in low income countries across Asia and Africa.

Aberdeen students have established a Europe-wide fundraising initiative with the charity, Room to Read to help improve educational opportunities for children in low income countries across Asia and Africa.

Third year English Literature student James Dunk set up the first university society in Europe dedicated to promoting the charity at Aberdeen with the help of fellow students.

The society aims to create a network of similar student-led initiatives at universities across the UK and beyond and has set a fundraising target of £20,000 in the next year.

James, 22, explains: “The charity Room to Read supports literacy and gender equality in education in Africa and Asia. It has 42 chapters spread around the world and we wanted to join the global movement, and especially grow awareness and support from the UK and European countries.

“As students we have a real insight into the benefits of an education and the ability to read is the key to unlocking that potential. It seemed a shame that no network to promote the work of the charity and to fundraise for this important area existed in European universities so I decided to set one up with Aberdeen as the hub.

“We have now established societies at five other European universities including Robert Gordon University, the universities of Edinburgh, Nottingham, Bergen and Royal Holloway. The aim is to get at least 10 signed up by the start of next term so fundraising can begin in earnest.”

Third year Medicine student at the University of Edinburgh, Kyle Bennett, 22, said: “I am delighted to be a small part of what I hope to soon be an international university collaboration. Room to Read is an innovative charity that works in collaboration with local communities and governments to end the cycle of illiteracy and gender inequality in education. It has a purpose that I believe will resonate deeply and ignite interest in the minds of students and academics.”

The Aberdeen society has already appointed a board and recruited a number of dedicated members and James said enthusiasm for the initiative reflected the passion of Aberdeen students to get involved in supporting a charity which aims to give all children access to education.

Room to Read believes that all children, regardless of gender or background, have a right to education.

“As students lucky enough to be in Higher Education we felt that it was important to contribute to a charity that is addressing one of the biggest injustices in the world today and this initiative will enable us to do that.

“Rather than work in isolation in Aberdeen, we felt the best way of having a wider impact and raising awareness and funds was to come together as a European network.

“Room to Read does great work in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zambia establishing school libraries, building schools, publishing local-language children's books, training teachers on literacy education and supporting girls to complete secondary school.

“Reading is a basic skill necessary to unlock learning throughout life but currently 271 million children around the world don’t have this opportunity.

“If the fundraising we do here can help lower that number then we hope we will have made a difference.”

James and his fellow board members will work during the summer holidays to build up the network and they have plans for fundraising through a variety of different methods in the new term.

Nisha Kadaba, Development Associate based out of Room to Read’s regional office in London, added: “We are so excited that The University of Aberdeen has started a Room to Read society and they want to help us grow awareness and raise funds to support our programmes in Asia and Africa; we look forward to having them join our global movement seeing them expand their new network to other Universities across the UK and Europe”

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