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Under the patronage of Her Excellency Mrs. Hala Lattouf, Minister of Social Development, We Love Reading in cooperation with UNICEF Jordan, held a seminar on August 6, 2018 in Landmark Hotel, Amman, Jordan, under the title “Bridging Research and Practices Successfully” to discuss and explore the importance of rigorous research to deliver effective and impactful programs to beneficiaries in development and humanitarian contexts. World class neurocognition and behavior scientists from Brown University and NYU as well as local universities presented their research on the impact of the deliveryof the We Love Reading program in Jordan.
Through a panel discussion the seminar explored the challenges and ways to move forward in creating collaborative partnerships between academia and practioneres in the field. The panel members include H.E. Minister of Social development Mrs. Hala Lattouf, H.E. Hamdi Tabba representing the private sector, Director of UNICEF Mr. Robert Jenkins and Professor Dima Amso, Director of the developmental cognitive neuroscience lab at Brown University.
The seminar included a lecture about the Impact of ordinary magic for healthy child development given by Dr. Dima Amso, and another lecture given by Prof. Antje Von Suchodoletz that discussed the impact of We Love Reading Program on Children in their homes and their relationships with the parents. Dr. Randa Mahasneh, discussed her research about how effective is a low cost community program in increasing reading practices and attitude where We Love Reading was the subject of study.
Through the panel, HE Hala Lattouf affirmed the importance of promoting reading among children in early childhood stages, pointing out that the national strategy for national development includes focusing on the concern of early childhood.
Lattouf added, "There is a real need to institutionalize the We Love Reading program to promote children's reading in culture, through programs for early childhood in preschools, or to integrate common reading concepts between parents and their children into programs supported by the ministry. And she stressed that the We Love Reading program should not only be a social movement but a national movement as well”
HE also added, "We have new instructions and regulations for the role of kindergartens that emphasize the importance of developing children's skills and abilities," she said, referring to the most vulnerable children. "Although numbers are important in monitoring the reading situation among children, it is important to follow individual cases, as every child is important, and this forces us to focus more on supporting the right to learning and reading for the most vulnerable children."
Professor Rana Dajani, founder and director of We Love Reading, stressed the importance of the role of the voluntary and private sector in promoting reading skills among children. And commended the decision of the Prime Minister Dr. Omar Al Razzaz who launched the educational endowment initiative which she perceives as a creative idea and a step forward to support Jordanian innovators. "Often philanthropists focus on their donations and charity on specific areas such as feeding the poor. At a time when other aspects are being overlooked, we hope there will be a change in the methodology of donations and charity, so that part of this money will be in support of education and reading skills," she said.
Professor Dajani stressed on the importance of using the human centered design strategy to develop effective programs that are inspired by reality and experience. In turn, Professor Dima Amso, said that it is not right to develop community programs without cooperation with the local community and to study them intensively to develop programs that fit the target environment. She added that the We Love Reading program is a low-cost, high-impact program that promotes pre-literacy skills, executive function and cognitive function.
In turn, UNICEF Representative in Jordan, Dr. Robert Jenkins spoke about the children's reading promotion programs carried out by the organization's centers, stressing the importance of encouraging children to read and instill the love of reading for them. UNICEF has been one of the most important supporters of the We Love Reading program over the last three years.
President of the Association of Businessmen H.E. Hamdi Tabbaa, stressed the interest of the private sector in the field of education and scientific research, pointing to the volume of large investments of the sector in private schools and universities. He also called for a cooperation plan between the scientific research bodies and the Ministry of Social Development.
We Love Reading is launching a new field guide on how to conduct randomized control trials in Arabic adapted from Jameel Abdel Latif Poverty Action Lab at MIT.The seminar also produced a list of recommended good practices to disseminate among stakeholders.