Lack of reading materials is not the only challenge in basic schools but also the absence of reading room (especially in rural basic schools), even when schools have some reading materials at their disposal. The Creative team in the USAID Read To Succeed (RTS) project in Zambia has developed a concept known as the Reading Tree to encourage schools to create reading space using the physical environment nature has provided. Many rural schools have trees with long, leaf-covered branches that shade the ground below. Teachers and students can sit under the shade and read when they have free time. As the result of cultivating and advancing this concept, many schools have turned their school compounds into attractive and supportive learning environments.
The RTS Program is a USAID-funded initiative, implemented by Creative Associates International in partnership with leading international and local partners: RTI International, Plan International, School-to-School International (STS), University of Pittsburgh, O’Brien and Associates, and a number of local organizations. RTS aims to improve student performance in the public school system, specifically focusing on early grade reading. RTS staff are working with students, teachers, and communities throughout six provinces across Zambia.