Taking a book home

Inspiring Readers in Sierra Leone

4th September 2019 | Blog

Thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, when 25 under-resourced primary schools in Sierra Leone took part in our Inspiring Readers school library programme, school life began to change.

The programme created a cupboard library in each school, filled with over 1,000 brand new books to be used in class and for reading for pleasure. For many pupils, this was the first time that they had access to any books beyond their teachers’ text books. Lessons were more interesting and reading books suddenly became fun.

Pupils and teachers from the participating schools tell us more:

Reading in class in Sierra Leone
Pupils are enjoying donated books in class as part of new library lessons that their schools have introduced

Now that each school has story books to enjoy, every class has weekly timetabled library lessons. Pupils are discovering the joy of reading as a result:

“Even sometimes in classes when it’s time for reading they urge you. They say “it’s time for reading now.” They are so happy. They have the urge to read for themselves.”

– Mohamed S. Njai, Teacher, Ansarul Islamic Primary School, Bo.

Thomas and friends
Thomas (left) now regularly visits his school library to read

“I like books like Dressed for the Job because they show us many different clothes for different jobs like ambulance people. Sometimes I go to the library and I take them and I sit and read them. I am very comfortable with the books.”

– Thomas (pictured above), 12, Practising Primary School, Makeni.

This new love for reading has led to a huge increase in book borrowing. Ninety-four percent of pupils are now borrowing books to read at home, compared to only 49% before the project began:

“Reading makes us feel happy. Sometimes when I read my book at home, when I borrow a book from the library my sister helps me know the words that I don’t know how to pronounce.”

– Fatmata, 11 yrs, Practising Primary School, Makeni.

Borrowing books
Ninety-four percent of pupils now borrow books to read at home

“Some of them they come and order us to give them the books, because they want to read.”

– Abu Koroma, Teacher, St Michael’s Primary, Kissy.

Teachers are also using the new books to bring other curriculum subjects to life and make learning fun. Books can be a vital tool in schools where other teaching resources are scarce:

“They make a great impact in our teaching methods. Normally we lack school materials, but the supply of these books have helped us to teach key areas of learning.”

– Edward Abu Sesay, Teacher, Wesleyan Church of Sierra Leone Primary School.

Using a book in class
The books are also being used by teachers to bring lessons to life. Elizabeth (pictured) uses Handa’s Surprise to teach home economics

“The programme has helped us to know how to use the materials in terms of reading. We even use those materials to teach other subjects; maths, science and so forth.”

– Elizabeth Kumba Sesay, Teacher, Roman Catholic Primary School, Segbweme.

With all this exposure to books, pupils’ reading skills (at their grade level) have improved by an amazing 61%!

“The way they were reading before and the way they are reading now is quite different. They can pronounce the words now.”

– Abu Koroma, Teacher, St Michael’s Primary, Kissy.

Engrossed in books
Pupils’ reading skills have greatly improved

“When I am grown up I will remember those books because they helped me a lot. Some English I don’t even know and when I read that book it enables me to know them.”

– Angella, 10, Practising Primary School, Makeni.

The books are also fueling a growing inquisitiveness even outside the classroom:

“There’s a book called Bird Spotter that has encouraged them to find birds. They have put water and seeds in their back yard, because they have seen a little boy in the book doing that. It’s very interesting.”

– Mohamed M. Bangura, Teacher, Ansarul Islamic Primary School, Bo.

“There is a boy who by himself goes out and reads information. Then he comes and tells us the information in assembly. Around the town and the school. We have a ‘Minister of Information’!”

– Abdul Francis Conteh, Head Teacher, St Francis Primary School, Makeni.

Phase one of Inspiring Readers Sierra Leone is generously supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. We would like to thank them for their ongoing support.

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