Reading in Zimbabwe

Looking forward to reading

16th July 2020 | Blog

A shipment carrying 37,741 brand new books left the warehouse at the end of June and is on its way to Zimbabwe!

School children there love the thousands of brand new, inspiring children’s books you help to send every year but at the moment, their libraries and schools are closed due to Covid-19 and many do not have books at home.

Here, Yeukai, a university librarian and Chair of our partner the Harare Distribution Committee shares how lockdown restrictions are impacting everyday life and education in Zimbabwe – and reflects on how restrictions are also highlighting the importance of books in supporting learning.

Yeukai
Yeukai

What restrictions are being imposed on normal life to keep people safe?

Covid-19 started in Zimbabwe in March with the death of a prominent person and that scared us. So immediately the schools and the universities were closed.

I was okay initially but then I realised that it looks like this pandemic is with us for some time.

Public libraries are still closed. Schools, teacher training colleges and polytechnics are also still closed. Universities are open only for final year students.

Most of the shops are closed. And we cannot move from one city to another – there is no intercity transport so that is a major challenge.

School in Zimbabwe
Schools are currently closed in Zimbabwe

How are these restrictions impacting people’s lives?

Some people are starving. Because most of our population are in the informal sector and the informal sector is still closed, most households have nothing. And also some companies, because they are not operating 100% so they have laid off some employees.

Choosing books to read
Many children rely on their schools and local libraries for books to read

And how are the restrictions affecting children’s education in particular?

We are a poor country so schools cannot do online teaching because our children have no resources to access online. Even some of our schools they are so remote that there is no internet connectivity.

So they have introduced radio lessons for the primary schools. All children can access them. The radio lessons are for a limited time and they need to refer to books after the radio lesson – curriculum books and supplementary books. But very few families have books at home.

Most of our schools, if you see books there, they are from Book Aid International.

Most of our schools, if you see books there, they are from Book Aid International. But at the moment schools and libraries are closed and I think it means next year, most of the children will have to repeat their grades because they will not have learned as they don’t have books.

Even now they still want to use books! It’s only that we said that we are not issuing out books but they still want to use the books.

Reading together outside
Books will help children catch up when schools reopen

There’s a shipment on its way which includes thousands of children’s and primary books. How do you think these new books will help children get back to learning when schools reopen?

When they go back to school, everybody will be eager to learn and to catch up. Books will definitely help, especially in the rural areas where they have nothing.

In most of our rural areas books are the only source of information because there are no computers, there is no internet. Books are the things they will be looking forward to!

Books are the things they will be looking forward to!

We can never have enough of books. Everyone depends on print. And we do really appreciate your books in Zimbabwe. Even now during Covid, people still ask if they can get books; the children, the teachers, the librarians. So that is how important the books are to us.

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