Improved academic performance

In 2017, we evaluated the impact of 25 Inspiring Readers school libraries. Across the board, teachers noted an improvement in children’s reading fluency and confidence, and this has improved performance in other subjects. Results include a 7% increase in science exam pass rate at Muringato Primary School after just one year.

New-found confidence

Perhaps even more significantly, children report feeling more confident, more able to take steps towards a brighter future and a new love of books. These results were noted again in 2018, when the Inspiring Readers programme expanded to Uganda. 

“Before, we used to fear and shiver when teachers asked us to read in front of the class. Nowadays everyone can read easily and we no longer fear.” 
– Pupil, Mbale Police Wanyera Primary School, Mbale, Uganda 

This was also noted after the implementation of STEM study hubs in Malawi, which focus on supporting girls as they explored careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. So far, 3,300 students have accessed their local STEM Study Hub and teachers have noted a change in the girls’ confidence: 

“Sciences brings out the inner me. Chemistry and biology are my favourites. I come to the library mostly for the science books. They really work with the new curriculum and the information is very clear. I want to be a biomedical engineer or a neurosurgeon.”
– Wakisa Makisulu, 14-year-old STEM Study Hub user

Improved reading speed

In Kenya’s deprived Laikipia county, literacy levels are low and schools lack the resources pupils need to learn to read. The African Educational Trust supports schools in the region and in 2018 we partnered with them on their Yes to Reading project. Together, we created 14 school libraries full of UK donated and locally purchased books and trained teachers in how to support pupils’ reading. The impact has clear, with a 52% increase in words read per minute for children in participating schools. Read the impact report here.   

Pupils reading in Dol Dol school
52% increase in words read per minute

Pupils are using their libraries more

Passing exams is critical for young people’s futures and many students use their libraries to revise. But all too often those libraries lack the books students need and librarians do not have the skills to support exam takers. 

We have created 16 Study Hubs in Zambian public libraries and schools where pupils can find revision books, textbooks, a study guide and librarians who had received training in how to guide them. As a result, visits to the 16 Study Hubs to utilise the materials have increased from 4,512 to 18,485 a month. Find out more here.

310% increase in the average monthly visits to the Study Hubs

Increasing reading in slum communities

Children in Nairobi’s Mathare and Kibera slum communities have few opportunities to discover books and improve their life chances. They live in crowded communities with few public services and crime, gangs and drug use are daily realities. 

In 2017, we worked with the Kenya National Library Service and local NGO The Mathare Youth Sports Association to create Book Havens in three slum libraries, providing beautiful children’s books, local books, murals, child-sized furniture and inviting book displays. We also trained librarians in how to support young readers. Since the Book Havens opened we have seen two key changes: Firstly, More children are visiting all three libraries. The refurbishment has made the libraries more inviting for children and more children are drawn in to see the colourful murals on the wall and read the new books. Secondly, Children are reading more. Newly trained librarians are more able to help children discover books and begin to read. All three libraries have reported that children are reading more in the library and borrowing more books. Read the full report here. 

“The staff offer direction. They helped me prepare for my interview for my new school by giving me all the books to revise and refer to as I prepared. It was because of them that I got 431 marks out of 500 in the exam I was given in the new school.” 
– Kelly, 13-year-old Book Haven user 

Children reading in Mathare, Kenya
276% increase in the average number of books read every month after three Book Havens opened in Nairobi.