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Our Model: High Literacy Clusters

Magara (2005) describes a reading culture as one where reading is highly valued and appreciated in the society and where reading is regarded not simply as something developed for school purposes but something practiced in all aspects of our lives. What then can be done to nurture this “culture for reading” and what can we do to contribute to the development of positive reading habits?

Sanders-ten Holte (1998) and Cruz (2003) suggest that to create a culture for reading within a given society, it is necessary to improve the reading environment in the home, the school and the community at the same time, while improving the image of reading so it is more than simply school-focused.

The aim of the Global Literacy Project, Inc. is unique in that we seek to create a truly self-sustaining culture of reading by creating High Literacy Clusters (HLCs) wherever we are working.  Our numerous activities–from shipping books to the service learning opportunities we provide for individuals in the USA and abroad–are all part of our mission to establish HLCs, which can then serve as springboards to engagement with reading and thereby offering the promise of attaining greater developmental goals in lagging regions/countries.

HLC Model | Characteristeics of a HLC | Stakeholders: Roles and Responsibilities

High Literacy Cluster

Characteristics of a High Literacy Cluster (HLC)

The HLC is a locality in which high literacy exists. Within the HLC, children and adults have immediate access to books and to programs that promote a culture of literacy.  The HLC is the result of a targeted effort by GLP to sustain literacy-supporting ratios of  people to media, which we have found to be optimal at 1 to 10. 

A public library and/or community learning center working with about 9 to 20 schools are at the heart of the HLC. Each school in the HLC is provided with its own well-stocked library and multi-media equipment.  In the HLC community members have easy and immediate access to books in homes, schools, and libraries.

HLCs have different characteristics depending on the country they are operating in.  For example, South Africa and Kenya, have swathes of the society with relatively high literacy rates, and as such, they have different needs than other countries that have lower literacy rates across the board.  In countries which may have relatively high literacy communities, HLCs address the fact that most people still do not have access to a wide range of media for enhancing and sustaining their literacy, whereas in low literacy countries, HLCs may be customized to deliver literacy at the levels and forms in which it is needed.

One of the tasks of the HLC is to select communities that are interested in transforming student performance and leadership ability through innovation means.  Highly motivated students and community members can help GLP establish and operate HLCs by getting involved in various aspects of the HLCs:

  • Establish Community Learning Center(s) to reach out to parents, children, and broader community 
    • Projects supporting vocational literacy
    • Partnering with local organizations to create entrepreneurial opportunities such as self-help sewing groups that create school unifoms.
  • Establish a Mentoring and Learning Program to inspire students to achieve their scholastic goals, reduce attrition rates, increase high school graduation rates, and the percentage of students going on to tertiary institutions.
  • Create libraries within each participating school
  • Create a Literacy Center in each school library with interactive, multimedia resources, usually featuring phonics instructional systems.
  • Initiate a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (S.T.E.M) program and run science camps or fairs.
  • Offer leadership development programs and service learning opportunities, which give providers and beneficiaries alike an opportunity to explore the meaning of altruism and the human bonds created when people take care of each other.
  • Assess and improve education outcomes by providing teachers with professional development workshops and other forms of support, instituting after-school programs,
  • Generate excitement around reading, writing and learning by designing creative extracurricular activities and encouraging participation
  • Continually inform community members in the HLC of ways to access locally available resources.
  • Enable HLCs residents to acquire the foundational skills in math, reading, and attitudes that help them to succeed in a democracy.

In sum, an HLC consists of schools, homes, libraries, and community centers full of books, computers and other literacy materials, where a general awareness is fostered, among all age groups, of the power of literacy as a tool for life-long learning, personal upliftment, and self-reliance.

High school graduates from an HLC should be equipped with the foundational skills in math, reading, and attitudes that enable them to succeed in a democracy.

Stakeholders: Their Roles and Responsibilities

As Part of the "Culture of Reading" Campaign

 Students are provided with many opportunities to practice and improve their reading skills, by families, learning partners, and teachers in schools.
 Teachers and school administrators work to support in-school reading activities. They also help motivate families and other learning partners in the community to extend these activities at home for children who most need help in reading. They are able to clearly describe what the school expects of students to families, students, and the community.
 Families will find out what is expected from the schools to read well, and what they can do to help their children succeed. For families who cannot come to the school, they can still help at home. Regardless of their own reading skills, parents have opportunities every day to build on the learning that takes place at school. Reading just 30 minutes a day to or with their child, for example, significantly increases the child's reading ability. If there are adult literacy issues in the family, the family should reach out to learning partners to help facilitate this component.

Tutors and other learning partners in the community are invited to volunteer time to read to and with children, and support teachers and families by engaging children in extended-learning activities, including the at home activities. Learning partners also play a crucial role in families with adult literacy issues.

Cruz, P.C. (2003). The library and the promotion of reading. CNDLAO Newlsetter, 48, November 2003, Retrieved from

Magara, E. (2005). Building family literacy skills among parents and children in developing countries, p. 1-14. A paper presented at the 71st IFLA General Conference and Council, Oslo Norway.

Sanders-ten Holte, M. (1998). Creating an optimum reading culture in the low countries: The role of stichting lezen. Retrieved form

Worthy, J. (1996). Removing barriers to voluntary reading for reluctant readers: The role of school and classroom libraries. Language Arts, 73, p. 483-492.

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