Feature Story News

CNMI literacy program going strong @ 20

By Lori Lyn Lirio

MF – Motheread/Fatheread program coordinators and parent-trainers during the professional development training held at the Pacific Islands Resort on March 23.

THE Northern Marianas Humanities Council’s Motheread/Fatheread Family Literacy Program is gearing up for its 20th anniversary in October to celebrate its expansion and success.

According to the NMHC, 20,997 families from the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI) have participated in its literacy program in its 20 year existence.

“We have a lot of parents and families that we worked with who do not use English as their first language. We are always looking for ways of how we are going to accommodate, how we can impart the program and we are going to teach in the program to these families,” said Beth Demapan, Joeten-Kiyu technical services librarian and CNMI Motheread/Fatheread assistant coordinator.

As part of the preparation for the upcoming anniversary celebration, the CNMI Motheread/Fatheread coordinators recently held professional development training for parent-trainers of the program to further improve their services to the community.

The training, according to program coordinator Viola Deleon Guerrero, was composed of activities that would equip the parent-trainers to better served the families.

Aside from the training, Demapan said they did brainstorming – gathering ideas and thoughts – with the trainers to plan for the 20th anniversary in October.

Deleon Guerrero revealed that they will have a month-long celebration in October and they will be inviting the whole community to join them in the celebration.

“The mission of this program is to promote family literacy to the community and to enhance the CNMI literacy in regards to reading. One of the things we do is we are reaching out to the family and children,” Deleon Guerrero said in an interview.

At the same time, she also expressed belief that the Motheread/Fatheread program made an impact in the community as they keep hearing success stories of parents and their children pursuing education, either in college or military.

Aside from holding Motheread/Fatheread literacy class for parents, Demapan said they have been coordinating with the agencies and community organizations to include and promote the program in their activities. These include the PTSA meeting, Head Start meeting, walkathons, library activities, and many different events all around Saipan, Tinian and Rota.

The program, according to Demapan, continues to expand partnerships with different agencies in the community. They also continue to work with the Northern Marianas College, the Public School System, Head Start.

“We recently got involved in Drug Court. We have about 27 of their clients who went to the program. We also gone with the Department of Correction and extend the program with the inmates as well as juvenile delinquent unit,” Demapan said, adding they partnered with Americorps too.

The program is also connected with religious institutions.

As of present, they have 23 parent-trainers and their goal is to add more parents to be involved and get active in the program.

According to Angela Wheat, certified parent-trainer for the program, the Motheread/Fatheread now has Chamorro books, which they used for their classes for the indigenous population.

“It is not only English now. We are looking for people to help us to interpret books and interpret legends that we can add in other languages and also to help further interaction.”

Deleon Guerrero said many parents were willing to participate in the program but some challenges hampered them to attend the class.

“One challenge we have is transportation issue with our parents. I know that there are so many out there who wants to come and participate but due to transportation issue, it is a barrier for them to even get to the class,” she said.

There was some challenge that they already addressed, she said.

“Parents used to worry about the childcare. We are now tackling that by having a separate class for the children. That helps improve our enrollment and registration for the community.”

Demapan said the program existed in every community events, but their measurement of success is seeing the parents developed confidence in reading to their children and knowing that their children’s reading level have increased.


Lori Lyn Lirio
Lori Lyn C. Lirio is a veteran newshen having worked for the People's Journal Tonight for more than 10 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications degree from the Lyceum of the Philippines University. She currently writes for the Marianas Variety, Saipan's number one community paper. .

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