Why we work in Zimbabwe
Political and economic instability, the collapse of its manufacturing industries, isolation from the international community and emigration of much of the skilled workforce have resulted in a situation in which a great many Zimbabweans find themselves without employment and struggling to survive.
The education system has suffered the loss of many teachers to emigration and chronic under-funding. Recent reports from Zimbabwe suggest as many as 50% of children do not progress in education beyond primary school.
Zimbabwe has maintained a strong reading culture despite the limited availability of books that has arisen from the impact of the economic downturn on the national publishing industry and high import taxes on international books. The country also has a strong tradition of public and community libraries, notably the National Free Library and Bulawayo Public Library, and the municipal libraries in both major and smaller towns throughout the country. Book purchase budgets are, however, very limited.
Education at primary and secondary levels is in English, but available funds are spent primarily on textbooks, with very few reading or supplementary books being purchased.
This culture of reading, together with an education system delivered in English, provides a rich environment for the books we send. Strong partnerships built over many years ensure that the books reach beneficiaries in a wide range of libraries throughout the country.
Our work in Zimbabwe
Public, municipal and community libraries remain a vital resource in Zimbabwe where few people can afford to buy the limited range of books available. The books that our public library partners request range from children’s books to adult fiction, non-fiction and life skills books.
Introducing children to reading
In addition to providing books for general collections in public libraries in Zimbabwe, Children’s Corners programme is creating vibrant and welcoming spaces for children in Zimbabwe’s public libraries. Find out more
Supporting schools in Zimbabwe
Through our partners we provide books to a large number of primary and secondary schools to support learning and the development of the habit of reading. We also support two school library networks run by local NGOs. The Edward Ndlovu Memorial Library based in Gwanda distributes book box libraries to a network of more than 20 schools in the local area.
The Rural Libraries and Resources Development Programme (RLRDP), supports school libraries in rural areas. To reach the schools, the project uses donkey-drawn library carts and book delivery bicycles to ensure children have a supply of relevant, up-to-date reading materials in school.
Supporting higher education in Zimbabwe
We work with a range of universities across the country, including the University of Zimbabwe, the National University of Science and Technology, Chinoyi University of Technology and Midlands State University, as well as newer universities such as Lupane State University which is yet to move into its permanent building. We are also able to support special cases for book donation, such as for Bindura University which lost much of its academic stock in a recent flood.
By supplying relevant, specialist and up-to-date books to university and higher education libraries in Zimbabwe we are able to support a great many students who would otherwise have little access to books and the information they need to pursue their studies.
*UN Human Development Report 2019