By supporting children, our work can have the maximum possible impact in the long-term.

Enriching primary schools

Our Inspiring Readers programme creates school libraries in African primary schools and trains teachers on how to use those books in the classroom. Since launching in 2016, the programme has reached over 182,000 children in 175 schools across four countries. Many of those schools are now reporting positive changes.

Improved academic performance. In 2017, we evaluated the impact of the first 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 from Muringato Primary School, shown below, are typical of the changes in pass rates:

7% increase in science exam pass rate after just one year Read more


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 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

Helping children say yes to reading in Kenya

Education offers a route out of poverty, but 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 been immediate:

52% increase in words read per minute for children in participating schools Read more

Through the Yes to Reading project, we also trained teachers how to use their new libraries, and the impact on teaching has also been fantastic:

“The UK donated books are simple and clear. I use them to teach grade 8 who are having challenges with reading. I was not taught phonetics in the teachers training college. I’m learning how to use sounds in teaching through the UK donated books which make it very easy to teach the pupils”.
– Charles Karuri, teacher-librarian, Oljogi Primary School, Kenya

Reaching secondary school pupils

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.

In 2017, we created 16 Study Hubs in Zambian public libraries and schools where pupils would find revision books, textbooks, a study guide and librarians who had received training in how to guide them. As a result:

Pupils are using their libraries more. Visits to the 16 Study Hubs to utilise the materials have increased from 4,512 to 18,485 a month.

310% increase in the average monthly visits to the Study Hubs Find out more


In 2018, we expanded the Study Hubs project, creating two new Study Hubs in Malawi with a focus on supporting girls as they explored careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

So far, 3,300 students have accessed their local STEM Study Hub and teachers have noted a change in the girls’ confi dence in STEM subjects:

“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

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. After the Book Havens opened we saw two key changes:

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.

276% increase in the average number of books read every month after three Book Havens opened in Nairobi Find out more

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.

“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

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