Refugee project WINS London Book Fair award!
It’s a great honour to receive this recognition for our Solar Homework Club project, which seeks to support secondary education in Kakuma by supplying brand new books and solar lamps so students can continue studying after dark.
Our vision is of a world where everyone has access to the books that will enrich, improve and change their lives and nowhere is this more important than in places like Kakuma, where education support is so desperately needed.
We would like to extend a very big thank you to the publishers who donate the books we send – it is thanks to them that we can undertake ambitious projects like this one, which aims to remove some of the particular barriers to reading faced by people in refugee settings.
Many thanks also to the Intouch Global Foundation for their funding and partnership on our solar projects.
The International Excellence Awards celebrate the wealth of success and innovation in the world’s publishing activity outside the UK. The category our project won – the Education Initiatives category – awards innovative and exciting new initiatives that increase education provision and effectiveness and provide wider access to learning.
Read on to find out more about our award-winning project!
Getting a good education in Kakuma Refugee Camp is incredibly hard.
Life in Kakuma is isolated and challenging. Residents are not allowed to leave the camp without special permission and are subject to curfews. In addition, homes do not have electricity and it is dangerous for females to go out after dark. For many, education is their only hope of leaving the camp and pursuing a better life.
But getting a good education in Kakuma is hard. Schools are oversubscribed and vastly under-resourced. There just two one-room community libraries for the entire 149,000 population and prior to our intervention only a few schools had a library resource. These libraries contain only a few textbooks and curriculum books and in most schools, teachers are largely students’ only source of information.
Without electricity at home, pupils’ time to revise, and complete homework or assignments is curtailed when it gets dark.
Solar Homework Clubs are improving educational attainment at secondary schools in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp through the provision of books and solar lamps.
Solar Homework Clubs have created Solar Libraries filled with new publisher-donated revision guides, supplementary textbooks and fiction and solar lamps in each of the camp’s six secondary schools. In addition, teachers have been trained in using the books to improve students’ study skills, exam preparation techniques and how to run a lending library.
By borrowing lamps and books, students are able to continue their studies at home after dark and maximize learning through the up-to-date resources. Already teachers report that students are better able to complete their assignments on time.
The books and lamps are also improving the quality of education as teachers are also using them, giving them more resources and extended hours to prepare lessons. Previously, they were trying to do this during busy teaching days.
Solar Homework Clubs invest in the most vulnerable
Studying outside of school hours is hard especially for girls and child-headed households (young people who looking after siblings without parents) as they often have to use available daylight in the morning and after school for chores such as cooking, collecting firewood and fetching water. Access to lamps is especially valuable for these children who in spite of their circumstances and busy schedules, are determined to succeed. They report that the lamps are enabling them to study at night once they have finished their chores and also in the mornings before dawn.
Many of the teachers are themselves refugees and were not teachers in their home countries. These individuals are often professionals in other disciplines with a passion and drive to make a difference in spite of the challenges they face. They have taken part in short teacher training programmes but with little experience, it is hard for them to deliver the quality education that they and their schools aspire to.
The teacher training included in the Solar Homework Club programme gives teachers the chance to develop new skills. They learn how to manage a lending library, instill study skills in their students and teach revision techniques. Two teachers and the head teacher at each school takes part in training.
Teachers report that these new skills have improved their confidence in their abilities and the training is already having a positive impact on students, as one teacher comments:
In a very short time, I was able to work with them on how to study and they got motivated and went on to study and formed study groups. In about four weeks they were able to perform miraculously. It was unimaginable that I raised my students’ mean grade from 2.2 to 3.3.
After the success of the project in Kakuma Refugee Camp, we are now working with Intouch Global Foundation and other partners to bring lamps and books into other communities in sub-Saharan Africa.