Tag Archives: Africa Educational Trust

Pupils reading in Dol Dol school

Yes to Reading final evaluation

Between 2017 and 2018, we partnered with Africa Educational Trust (AET) to implement Yes to Reading, a project aimed to support the education of Maa-speaking children in 14 under-resourced primary schools in Dol Dol, Laikipia County, Kenya. This paper presents our findings.

Project background

In Laikipia County only 23% of residents have secondary-level education or higher. In Laikipia North constituency where Dol Dol resides, the rate is the lowest in the whole of Kenya. The local community are mainly Maa-speaking pastoralists whose main economic activity is herding livestock. Their nomadic lifestyle makes it hard for children to attend school as families frequently move in search of pasture for their livestock. In addition, schools in Dol Dol have few book resources beyond curriculum textbooks which are also often limited in number. As a result, illiteracy levels are high. In addition, with few books in school, pupils have no resources to use for assignments or further their knowledge.

The Yes to Reading project aimed to improve learning outcomes of Maa-speaking children by establishing their reading skills in their mother tongue and preparing them for the transition to learn in English (which is a language of instruction in Kenyan schools).

In collaboration with AET, we focussed on four main areas of activity:

  • Improving access to books in the local language and English at each of the 14 participating primary schools.
  • Training teachers at each school to manage a school library, use books in class and promote reading.
  • Promoting reading among the rural communities in Dol Dol to encourage support for reading for information, study and pleasure.
  • Monitoring, evaluating and reporting on the project activities and outcomes to inform future project development.

 

Key findings from the Yes to Reading project included

 

Pupils’ learning outcomes have improved

Teachers report that pupils are now writing more interesting compositions and have greater confidence reading and speaking in class as they have a broader vocabulary.

Pupils reading more regularly

The donation of new books has led schools to set up school libraries and implement library lessons and reading periods.

Books used more frequently in class

Teachers are using new skills gained in the training to use the new books to teach comprehension and other subjects in class.

Reading in Ugandan school

Loving school libraries in Uganda

Esther
Esther

Esther, 14, in Eastern Uganda doesn’t have any books at home. She wants to become a doctor so that she can treat people in her community. Esther’s school library has helped her with her studies towards her dream as it has a lot of science books.

 

Ugandan school
Children enjoy books in a classroom in Uganda

 

Our partner Africa Educational Trust (AET) creates education programmes to support adults and children like Esther in conflict-affected areas of Africa. In Uganda, they are working with other organisations to bring recovery and prosperity in eastern and northern regions where poverty and conflict have impacted the quality and accessibility of education. Many schools there are severely under-resourced and AET is working to establish school libraries and train librarians in disadvantaged primary schools. We are proud to support their work, donating brand new books for pupils to enjoy who might not otherwise have anything to read.

Here, young readers in Uganda tell us more about their school libraries:

 

Discovering dinosaurs

Florence
Florence

 

Florence, 11, goes to her school library at least once a week to borrow a book to read at home. Fruit is her favourite book because it has good pictures and she has also learned a lot about plants from it. The books in her school library have given her the opportunity to learn about things you don’t get in Uganda like snow and dinosaurs. She wants more books to be added to the library’s collection so she can keep learning new things.

 

Reading Buddies

 

Godfrey and Yowana
Reading Buddies Yowana and Godfrey

 

Yowana, 11 and Godfrey, 13, joined the Reading Buddies scheme at their school in February and have been reading together twice a week ever since. Every Monday and Thursday they come to their school library at six in the morning to read for an hour before schools starts. The boys have found that by reading together, their reading is improving – they learn new words from each other and are able to help each other with pronunciation. Together, they have developed a real love of reading and they are now encouraging other friends to find reading partners of their own. Both hope to become teachers when they grow up so they can help more children discover the joy of reading.

 

A librarian in the making

 

Rebecca
Rebecca

 

Ten year old Rebecca doesn’t have any books at home. She enjoys reading so much that she helps out in her school library, organising the books and keeping the space clean, so that she can have access to books as much as possible. Her older sister helps her with hard words and combined with the books in her school library, Rebecca’s reading and comprehension is getting better and better.

 

Many thanks to AET for the opportunity to share these stories and pictures with our supporters.

Our Vision for 2020

As part of our Vision for 2020, we are committed to supporting pupils struggling to learn in under-resourced schools and people affected by conflict. Find out more using the links below.

 

Thika Muslim Primary

Laying foundations for learning

Learning a new language is hard. Words sound alien to our ears, writing looks indecipherable and it feels like we will never get better, never understand.

Imagine that this was your very first experience of education – your first opportunity to learn outside of the home, in formal education. Your teacher speaks in a language you don’t understand, writes on the board using letters that don’t make sense to you.

 

Bwoga Primary School

 

This is the experience of hundreds of millions of children across the world. In many multilingual countries, children are taught in a language they do not speak at home. This is especially the case for children in remote and rural areas who may not speak the national language.

The opportunity to learn in a mother language is particularly crucial in early primary education where foundations for learning are laid. This is where acquisition of reading and writing proficiency takes place. Without this foundation, children are held back from making the most of their education for the rest of their school careers and dropout rates can be high.

 

Edward Ndlovu Memorial Library

 

By instructing children in their local language at a young age, they are able to learn basic literacy skills more quickly and easily and are better prepared to learn a national or an international language when the time comes.

So days like today’s UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day are hugely important as a way of raising awareness about this great need. This year’s International Mother Language Day is celebrated under the theme ‘towards sustainable futures through multilingual education’:

“To foster sustainable development, learners must have access to education in their mother tongue and in other languages. It is through the mastery of the first language or mother tongue that the basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy are acquired. Local languages, especially minority and indigenous, transmit cultures, values and traditional knowledge, thus playing an important role in promoting sustainable futures.” – UNESCO

The importance of education in children’s own languages has been recognised internationally and many countries now prescribe mother tongue instruction in primary schools. Yet many schools lack the materials and teachers lack the training to make this a reality.

 

Boys reading

 

This is why, as part of our programmes, we provide grants for the purchase of local books in local languages and support partners’ projects like Africa Educational Trust’s work with Maa speaking children of Laikipia in Kenya. Adrienne Gregory, Head of Fundraising at Africa Educational Trust (AET) tells us more:

The Maasai community is traditionally nomadic but has become more settled in the Laikipia county. Still children walk an average of 4-5 km every day to reach school. Although Maa children are able to attend school, the languages of instruction – English and Kiswahili – are not understood by the majority of these pupils.

 

Kiwanji Ndege pupils reading

 

So Africa Educational Trust develop early-reader books and other materials in Maa to support literacy and numeracy. These books are not only in their mother language but culturally appropriate, derived from local stories and poems. As English is one of the languages of instruction in Kenyan schools, we provide brand new colourful, engaging and age-appropriate books to help ease transition to English:

Schools in remote rural areas like Kiwanja Ndege are the most under-resourced in Kenya. As a result, children in the semi-arid region of Kenya have the poorest school results in the country. Many of these schools do not have any books other than course materials. AET has been working with Book Aid International to help Kiwanja Ndege and 13 other schools in Laikipia County to improve local language teaching in Maa, help students transition from Maa to English and improve their academic performance. Book Aid International has provided thousands of new, relevant books in English for the schools and AET has provided Maa-language materials. Together we have established libraries in each school and teacher training in how to manage the library and promote reading.

 

Kiwanji Ndege library after

 

Pupils at Kiwanja Ndege Primary School now have access to over 650 books. The library is very popular. On average, 60 pupils borrow books each day to read in class and in their own time. They read story and phonics books and teachers also use the phonics books to teach various activities in lower primary. Now if you visit the school you would find older children reading in their breaks. The children tell us that reading the books is helping with their English – they are learning new words and gaining more confidence. Teachers also say that the students are reading better. 

 

Part of this piece was taken from a blog about our work with Africa Educational Trust, published in 2016. To read the piece in full, click on the links below.

 

Opening libraries in Somaliland

Since 1991, Somalia has been riven by internal conflict and without an effective central government. As well as huge loss of lives and homes, the conflict has also badly affected health and education provision. Books and educational resources are in extremely short supply.

 

Somaliland sunset

 

We’ve been supporting libraries in Somalia for over 40 years. Today, as Somalia seeks to recover, we have a vital role to play by providing books to help people and local institutions rebuild their lives and communities.

We are proud to support the work of our partner in Somalia, Africa Educational Trust (AET). AET is dedicated to promoting and providing education for all, targeting excluded groups including those affected by conflict. We supply brand new books for the community libraries, schools, universities and other institutions AET supports.

Recently, AET opened a new library in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, a semi-autonomous region of Somalia. We were delighted to supply books to fill its shelves. We caught up with AET Executive Director Julie Polzerova to find out more about the new library.

 

Tell us a bit more about Somaliland and the need for the work of Book Aid International and AET there.

Somaliland had been involved in conflict for many years. Fighting between clans and between Somaliland and Ethiopia for land has led to a country where the infrastructure is fragile and underdeveloped.  Since declaring independence, Somaliland has fought to establish its own government. The education system is complicated by the need for literacy in English, Somali and Arabic. Reading materials are scarce and both children and adults find it hard to source books to support wider literacy as well as text books in English.

 

View from Amoud University, Somaliland

 

How have BAI and AET been working together to address these issues?

AET programmes in Somalia support government and community efforts to re-establish formal education at both primary and secondary school levels. As part of this, AET has been setting up libraries in primary and secondary schools, vocational institutions, community libraries and universities across Somaliland. These institutions are vital as the country aims to rebuild. Book Aid International has been supplying brand new books to support these libraries since 2002.

 

Pupils enjoy books at M Ali Secondary School
Pupils enjoy books at Ma Ali Secondary School. Photograph courtesy Africa Educational Trust.

We were delighted to hear of the new library AET opened in Hargeisa. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

The library building is brand new, built within the AET compound to ensure security. It is a large space which is well furnished for reading and group work and it houses a large number of books. Most of these have been supplied by Book Aid International. The books the charity has sent cover a diverse range of topics including medical and science textbooks, dictionaries and a wide range of reading books for all ages. I am pleased to say that the library is really well-used by the local community including local schools, teachers and students as well as general members of the public.

 

New Hargeisa library
The new library at Hargeisa. Photograph courtesy of Africa Educational Trust.

What opportunities do you hope this new library and the books it contains will bring to the people of Hargeisa?

Obtaining English reading books is next to impossible in Somalia and so improving English literacy is very difficult, but is essential for trade and employment. So to have access to brand new books in English like those supplied by Book Aid International is invaluable. Access to phonics books and early readers which the charity has sent are a great way to introduce children to English and grow their proficiency in the language. Likewise, guided readers and general fiction titles enable young people and adults to improve their literacy.

Our next step will be to install computers into the library so people can learn to search the internet for information as well as using books.

 

We’re delighted to hear that the new books we send are providing the people of Hargeisa with vital access to materials essential for education, trade and employment. We hope these books will help the community to make the most of their education, further their skills and develop a love of reading.

Pupils in Somalia reading

School libraries: broadening horizons for children in Somaliland

Book Aid International has been proud to partner with Africa Educational Trust (AET) for many years, supporting their work in Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda. AET works to provide education to children and young people affected by conflict and poverty.  As an organisation dedicated to education for all, AET targets excluded groups including pastoralists and people in remote and rural communities, families displaced by conflict or drought and girls and women.

Many schools in Somalia were destroyed in the civil war and educational resources are in extremely short supply. As Somalia seeks to rebuild its education system Book Aid International has a vital role to play in providing new, carefully selected books that can help people rebuild their lives and communities.

Since 2002 we have supplied books to stock libraries set up by AET in primary schools across Somaliland, a semi-autonomous region of Somalia. Since then, AET has expanded this work into secondary schools, vocational institutions, community libraries and universities in Somaliland. We were delighted to hear from AET recently about the difference these libraries and the books we send continue to make:

 

Zaynab reading

 

Zaynab was 12 years old and in the third year of primary school in Hargeisa, Somaliland, when AET established a library in her school. Before joining the school, Zaynab and her family lived in a rural area south of Hargeisa rearing sheep and goats on the arid plains. Moving to Hargesia gave Zaynab and her siblings the opportunity to go to school – something which they were very happy about.

Zaynab flourished in school. She was a bright pupil who regularly participated in class and made frequent visits to the school library. Her Headmaster and other teachers in the school were impressed by the progress she made in her studies. Encouraged by her teachers, she spoke English in class, in the library, with students, with teachers and even her family at home.

Zaynab’s progress was certainly influenced by her love of reading. She persuaded the school librarian to allow her to borrow books from the library and read as many books as she could in her spare time. Zaynab read everything available – story books, science, English, environment, social studies – all the materials she could find.

 

Zaynab in the library

 

When asked how she feels about reading she said:

“I enjoy reading. I feel that I am in another wonderful world when reading cultural books (different people, dresses, foods, wildlife and children stories). It’s a blessing that AET has provided me a wonderful opportunity which enabled me to improve my education, experiences and awareness on the enjoyable world around us.”

Zaynab is now the Chief Editor of an English newspaper published and produced quarterly by her school.

 

Find out more about our partnership with AET and our work in Somalia below.

Photos supplied by Africa Educational Trust.

 

Laikipia surrounds

Supporting mother tongue education and transition in Kenya

Africa Educational Trust (AET) is one of Book Aid International’s long-standing partners. Working in Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda, AET seeks to build education programmes for excluded people in conflict-affected areas of Africa. We supply new books and partner on projects to support AET in their work. For the past year we have partnered with AET Kenya on a Mother Tongue and English Education project. Here, Adrienne Gregory, Head of Fundraising at AET, tells us about the project and what it is already achieving.

 

Kwanja Ndege School sign

 

Kiwanja Ndege Primary school sits on one of the highest points on the outskirts of DolDol town in Laikipia County, Kenya, over 60 kilometres from the next town. The school’s name means ‘land for planes’ and is named for the small strip that is close to the school. There are 351 children who attend the school. Most of them are Maasai, a community that is traditionally nomadic, but has become more settled in this area. Still the children walk an average of 4-5 km every day to reach the school. Although Maa children are able to attend school, the languages of instruction – English and Kiswahili – are not understood by the majority of these pupils.

 

Kiwanja Ndege library before
Kiwanja Ndege school library before

 

Schools in remote rural areas like Kiwanja Ndege are the most under-resourced in Kenya. As a result, children in the semi-arid region of Kenya have the poorest school results in the country. Many of these schools do not have any books other than course materials. AET has been working with Book Aid International to help Kiwanja Ndege and 13 other schools in Laikipia County to improve local language teaching in Maa, help students transition from Maa to English and improve their academic performance. Book Aid International has provided thousands of new, relevant books in English for the schools and AET has provided Maa-language materials. Together we have established libraries in each school and teacher training in how to manage the library and promote reading.

 

Kiwanja Ndege library after
Kiwanja Ndege school library after

 

“What we have has just laid the foundation as we had nothing before when we only relied on newspaper cuttings.”

– Benjamin Muriuki, English Teacher and Teacher Librarian at Kiwanja Ndege Primary School.

Pupils at Kiwanja Ndege Primary School now have access to over 650 books. There is not room for a separate library so the books are stored in Teacher Librarian Benjamin Muriuki’s office. Although there isn’t space for classes to have library lessons here, Benjamin has made reading an everyday affair for pupils by allowing them access to the books whenever he isn’t in class and at break time and after school. The library is very popular. On average, 60 pupils borrow books each day to read in class and in their own time. They read story and phonics books and teachers also use the phonics books to teach various activities in lower primary.

 

Kiwanja Ndege pupils reading
Kiwanja Ndege pupils enjoy a book together

 

Now if you visit the school you would find older children reading in their breaks. The children tell us that reading the books is helping with their English – they are learning new words and gaining more confidence. Teachers also say that the students are reading better. During one visit, AET staff sat in on a lesson where the class read out loud. After reading, the students were all able to answer some simple questions about the story. Overall, teachers report that the library has helped improve lessons and students and teachers are communicating in English better.

Everyone hopes the library will grow. The books are currently housed in a lockable cabinet, but teachers and students now have a dream of a room filled with books, where students and teachers can come and share the joy of reading.

Photos supplied by Africa Educational Trust.