Solomon reading

An update from Ghana

10th June 2020 | Blog

As lockdown restrictions in the UK begin to ease, in line with new government guidelines our South London warehouse has reopened.

We are now working to resume operations as fully as social distancing and health and safety measures allow and we are thrilled that our first shipment has just left, carrying 52,683 brand new books bound for Ghana.

In about four weeks’ time, these books will reach our partner Ghana Library Authority (GhLA).

We caught up with Hayford Siaw, GhLA’s Executive Director to find out how Covid-19 has impacted Ghana and how these books will be used in their work to support their country’s post-Covid recovery.

 

Books arriving in Ghana
A shipment is now on its way to Ghana! (This photo is of books arriving in 2019)

The books are on their way! How will GhLA make use of them?

We are excited to receive the books. They’ll be safely distributed to our libraries across the country to enable our patrons everywhere to benefit from the wider range of books to choose from when libraries reopen.

Kids reading
The books on their way will give readers a wider range of new books to choose from when libraries reopen

How have the restrictions affected the work of GhLA?

Due to the ban on all public gatherings we have had to shut down all our public libraries. Our Mobile Library Van which also provides mobile ICT services has also paused. Sadly, our 70th Anniversary activities which would have included public gatherings have had to be rescheduled.

Education will be negatively affected.

What plans do you have for when libraries reopen?

Before we reopen our libraries, we will disinfect them all to create a safer environment for patrons and staff. Once they are open, we will work to improve and maintain good water, sanitation and hygiene in our libraries.

We will also launch a My Library Campaign to encourage people back into the libraries and we also hope to support digital community learning by providing Wi-Fi into communities using libraries as central Wi-Fi hubs.

Reading and learning from the books will provide a positive distraction to the harm Covid-19 has caused to communities.

Shop in Jamestown
All non-essential shops and businesses were temporarily shut down but are beginning to reopen now

What restrictions on normal life are currently being imposed because of COVID-19?

Ghana’s borders have been closed and there has been an indefinite closure of all educational institutions and public libraries. Public gatherings have also been banned including sporting events, conferences and workshops. All businesses except essential service providers were temporarily shut down however they have now reopened but must observe the prescribed social distancing and hygiene measures.

Reading and learning from the books will provide a positive distraction to the harm Covid-19 has caused to communities.

What challenges do people in Ghana face because of these restrictions?

There has been a hike in the price of basic food supplies as a result of panic buying when the partial lockdown was imposed. In addition, the temporary closure of businesses has resulted in the loss of many jobs and a decline in income. For example, private school owners cannot pay staff since schools are not in session. The hospitality industry is also being adversely impacted due to the border closure and slowdown in demand for international travel.

The partial lockdown in Greater Accra and Kumasi increased hardships for the city’s urban poor who were confronted with hunger since they were restricted from going about their work to earn daily wages which could barely afford them three square meals daily. The government has provided two free meals for 400,000 vulnerable people daily.

How has education been affected?

Schools were shut down on 16th March 2020 and education will be negatively affected even though the Ministry of Education is trying to bridge the gap through online and TV learning.

Most students are unable to study effectively from the house due to several factors including the inability of parents to assist their children on how to access online learning platforms, limited access to the internet and a lack of the technical know-how needed by students to effectively utilise e-learning platforms.

We’re also running a radio storytelling hour. The rationale behind this is to educate Ghanaians at home and encourage reading and learning.

Do people often have books at home in Ghana?

Not all do but some Ghanaian parents keep books such as textbooks at home to aid with children’s homework. However, many Ghanaian homes have access to smart phones, therefore we have provided the Ghana Library App to ensure that every Ghanaian home can access reading materials in the form of eBooks.

What work are you doing to keep people reading while libraries closed?

We have enhanced our Ghana Library Mobile App so that our readers will have many options to choose from and have also developed a new system give patrons access to school-related and other educative content such as e-books, video and audio files through our mobile apps.

In addition, we have launched a National Short Story Writing Challenge. The Challenge is an open-subject story-writing contest for children aged nine to 18 and is aimed to help children at home make good use of their time during Covid-19.

We’re also running a radio storytelling hour. The rationale behind this is to educate Ghanaians at home and encourage reading and learning.

 

We are proud to be working with the GhLA to ensure that when schools and libraries reopen in Ghana, people have access to inspiring books to get back to learning and rebuild their communities.

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