Reunion is a small volcanic island of 2500 km², located in the west of the Indian Ocean, in the south-east of Africa. It has been a French department since 1946. The history of its settlement is recent, since it dates only from the middle of the 17th century, but it has generated a particularly important ethnic and cultural mix. This multiculturalism is overwhelmingly experienced as an asset.
If Reunion is both a Department and a French Region, it nevertheless has its specificities. Geographical, of course, since based nearly 10,000 km from France. Historical, also, with its colonial past of sad memory, the inequalities and the frustrations that this one could give birth to. Social, finally.
Thus, one of the plagues of our island is illiteracy *, to name but one, and it is wreaking havoc. Over 100,000 people (between 16 and 65) are illiterate, out of a population of 855,000. And this figure has changed little or not for three decades.
It is on the basis of this sad observation that Stéphanie R., librarian by profession, created its Read, Write, Act – Réunion Association (LEAR) in 2019. To try to “add a stone to the building”, as the expression goes. If the medium chosen from the start for its actions was the book, LEAR wanted to focus on the themes of gender equality and respect for differences, among others.
Along the way, we have discovered Agenda 2030. In the process, we followed a MOOC of several weeks on the Sustainable Development Goals, and noted that everything was linked, and that change went through everyone. We therefore decided to work on two fronts: reading, writing, on the one hand, and raising awareness of the SDGs on the other.
Thus, we use the book medium, to disseminate the messages of the 2030 Agenda. We hope in this way to inform and reach as many people as possible. To help us, we have a Twitter account (@LireAgir) and a website , on which we communicate around our actions.
But not only… Because we believe that a little levity, sometimes, does not hurt, we often distil a dose of humor in our remarks. Moreover, I propose to introduce laughter as SDG 18 🙂
* Illiteracy refers to the condition of a person who has benefited from learning, but who has not acquired, or has lost, mastery of reading, writing and arithmetic. Illiteracy is to be distinguished from illiteracy which results from a lack of learning.
How LEAR works
LEAR is made up of a President, a Treasurer, and four volunteers, all recruited via the website of the civic reserve , for one-off or recurring actions. These will ultimately be responsible for co-coordinating actions with the President, Stéphanie R.
Concretely, we offer reading-writing workshops, followed by debates and / or quizzes. The books are selected in advance by us, if necessary in consultation with teachers and / or book and reading professionals.
We also rely on the SDG Book Club. In addition, we follow Twitter accounts which can provide us with valuable advice in the field (Babelio, for example, often offers interesting thematic selections). We also try to keep a regular watch on the SDGs and the various actions carried out in France and elsewhere for their achievement.
The principle of our workshops is as follows:
Reading of an extract from an album or a children’s novel made available by our Association, and linked to one or more SDGs. Then we offer practical writing exercises around the selected extract. Then we debate it. A school principal and CM2 teacher had chosen “Plastic apocalypse”, competing for the 2020 UNICEF Prize, to work with her students.
To give the whole a more playful aspect, we embellish our workshops with quizzes and games. LEAR has received a few from generous donors (ADEME, Eco-CO2). There are also a lot of great things online (Go goals, Digital Comics, …) that can be set up quite easily.
in library / media library
Same principle as for schools, except that the public is more varied, and older. For example, we held a thematic workshop on water, highlighting the importance of SDG 6.
Another was proposed around the rereading of the world, within the framework of the operation “Les Nuits de la lecture”. The theme was relatively broad, but we take every opportunity to talk about Agenda 2030 and the SDGs, trying to link them to our workshops, either directly or indirectly.
Specific actions for 2021
The year 2020 has been, as for many people and structures, too uncertain for us to be able to fully carry out our actions. The beginning of the year 2021 is not so much less.
However, we know that – for the moment – the media libraries remain open. The opportunity for us to set up the UNICEF Children’s Literature Prize .
What does it consist of?
Have children, aged 3 to 15, vote for their favorite children’s album or novel, among a selection of four pounds per age group. The theme for this year is “Over the Emotions”; friendship, mourning, school phobia, difference, acceptance of oneself and others, etc.
We have contacted a network of media libraries in the west of the island for the implementation of this Prize.
How? ‘Or’ What ?
To begin with, LEAR asked the children’s publishers whose works are in the running for the Prize, to obtain one or more copies free of charge. Most of them have played the game, and we have, free of charge, material to implement the implementation of this action. For other titles, the Association pays for them or requests the reception media library in advance to acquire them.
Then we plan to offer small groups of children, upon registration with the media library or its neighborhood library, to participate in one or more reading sessions of the selected works. Reading albums aloud for the age group 3-5 years, assisted reading and / or home loan for older children.
Good to know : UNICEF also makes available the audio transcription of the albums and youth novels in the running, allowing access to the visually impaired or blind.
We would also like to set up a “for real” vote, with the installation of a voting booth and a ballot box. Thus, children would see concretely part of the functioning of democracy, through this fundamental right and duty of citizenship. Votes can be taken until August 2021.
A debate, around the values of UNICEF, the rights of the child, and the theme chosen for this year’s Prize, is not excluded. We hope that the health situation will allow us to put this action in place, because it is close to our hearts.
To help us tackle the chosen theme with the children, UNICEF provides educational files for each age group, as well as a thematic sheet on mental health. A subject that worries and strongly echoes the situation in which we have been operating for more than a year.
LEAR was approached by a Beninese NGO with the aim of creating a partnership between our two countries. In particular, it was planned to jointly organize an event around sport, the inclusion of women, and volunteering. This project is unfortunately dead in the bud, atomized by the health crisis.
We are also in talks with the manager of an application that has not yet been developed in Reunion. We are currently considering a partnership between our two structures, which would primarily benefit students.
We also met the head of another association on the island, which is one of the 150 of the citizens’ convention. We wish to join forces for joint actions around the protection of the environment and other actions more focused on education and culture.
Finally, LEAR proposed a large-scale project which would involve several structures on the island (communities of agglomerations, Environment and Energy Management Agency, municipalities, Department, vocational school, etc.). It would particularly target young people from neighborhoods, in priority those who are the furthest away, geographically or socially, from the culture. This project is underway, we hope to tell you more when it is really up and running.
See you soon under the sign of the SDGs!