Fighting for books in Cameroon
Andrew Nyenty has been working to get all Cameroonians reading for 13 years. We asked him why advocating for books is such an important part of his work.
The organisation I lead, Education Information services International (EISERVI), works to ensure that people all over – but especially those in disadvantaged communities – have access to better educational opportunities by setting up libraries.
Access to books in Cameroon is limited and even when they are available they are mostly the curriculum books for use in schools. It is commonplace to see ten or more children all using one curriculum book in the classroom and in certain instances the book is a luxury and only held by the teacher who reads for the children to listen. Almost the only libraries are libraries set up by EISERVI with books from Book Aid International.
Book Aid International has been exceptional in the support they have continuously given to EISERVI for over 13 years. We receive more than 40,000 books annually to support our work establishing libraries, and we have been part of Book Aid International’s Reading Promotion Campaign.
It is important we advocate for books because reading opens children up to developing their potential by acquiring knowledge and skills that they need to be competitive in the future global village.
Giving the children the opportunity to interact with books in English, improving their reading skills and confidence and developing a reading culture is the best way to impact the lives of children positively.
The Reading Promotion Campaign provides financial support to partners like us in 13 countries for reading promotion activities. This financial support allows us to run activity-packed events which attract children to participate in reading activities, dances, games, and plays around books. We can buy gifts and banners that make the events much more attractive.
These events help develop children’s confidence and skills in using reading materials, increase their interaction with books and boosts learner’s self-esteem. They feel uplifted and enthused when they participate and win prizes at these events.
Some of the children and even schools at these reading promotion events pick up membership at the EISERVI library because of the wide variety of appealing books on display.
Also the 40,000 books we receive every year to give out to our local partners – universities, schools, colleges, councils, communities, prisons – really also support reading promotion. These books are the base of many of the institutions building their library setups. Libraries remain the key component for research and literacy of the institutions we support.
Cameroon is part of the global village and for children in Cameroon to be competitive, they have to get access to books that would give them opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills that they need to meet the challenges that go with the changing times in today’s world.
Reading and the availability of books to children in schools, homes and the library is the only way to give them hope, empower them and encourage them to build a better future. So we will always keep advocating for books.
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