Tag Archives: Freetown

Freetown library

Celebrating International Literacy Day in Sierra Leone

Jessica Faulkner, our Head of Communications, travelled to Sierra Leone earlier this month to visit the libraries and new projects that we have begun to support in 2016. While she was there, the Sierra Leone Library Board celebrated International Literacy Day (8th September) and Jessica went along to the celebrations in Freetown Central Library.

International Literacy Day is a chance for people around the world to celebrate the joy of reading and the opportunities it can bring. It is also a day to remember that there are still millions of people around the world who cannot read and whose future prospects are limited by this. For many of us, going without the sheer pleasure of reading a great book is hard to imagine.

The 21 libraries of the Sierra Leone Library Board have celebrated International Literacy Day for many years and 2016 was no different. This year, as we have just begun to support libraries in Sierra Leone, we were happy to supply a banner, posters, pencils and balloons for children to help the day go with a bang. Most importantly though, we also provided 100 brand new books to mark the day so that children could go back to their schools with the beginnings of a new library collection.

Freetown Library

The new school term hadn’t started by 8th September in Sierra Leone but that didn’t stop children from turning up for the celebrations. As well as children of all ages, there were teachers, heads of schools and community members. We were treated to children reading aloud, reciting poems, telling us local stories and acting out short sketches on the importance of literacy and education in the 21st century. Their passion for reading was clear to see.

International Literacy Day

In a country like Sierra Leone, International Literacy Day is more than a celebration of books. It is a chance to encourage reading and to change the future direction of the country. Sierra Leone’s adult literacy rate stands at just 45%. This means that more than half of the adults in the country cannot help their children to learn to read. Their employment prospects are limited to jobs which do not require reading or writing. They cannot understand the instructions on a medicine bottle or read the many public health posters around the country about protecting against infection and preventing Ebola. That’s why days like these are so important. They remind communities of the importance of reading and they promote ways in which children can access books that can make a huge difference in their lives.

While I was in Sierra Leone, I also spent two days visiting rural schools in some of the more impoverished areas of the country. Through a partnership with Plan International we have begun supplying small collections of books to these schools – often the only books the school has. I met parents, teachers and children in the villages and was struck by the parents’ passion for their children’s education. Many of these parents are illiterate but they understand the value of education and literacy for their children. They want a better future for their children – a future where opportunities are not limited by illiteracy. This is what International Literacy Day is all about.

Book Aid International supported six partner countries to celebrate International Literacy Day in 2016 by providing promotional items, guidance and new books for children.


NEWS RELEASE: Book Aid International returns to Sierra Leone to support library services

Library development charity Book Aid International is returning to supporting libraries in Sierra Leone, it announced today. The charity, which ships around a million books each year to libraries in sub-Saharan Africa, has sent a shipment of 38,000 brand new, carefully selected books to Freetown to help the country rebuild after the Ebola crisis.

Book Aid International withdrew from Sierra Leone in 2007 when the ceasing of UK government funding caused the charity to reduce its number of countries of operation and focus on East Africa. Since then Book Aid International has grown its income streams and is now once again in a position to support Sierra Leonean libraries with donations of brand new books for a range of libraries. The expansion into Sierra Leone is supported in part by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, who started supporting the charity in late 2014.

The books on this first shipment will go to the Sierra Leone Library Board which runs a network of 20 public libraries as well as supporting schools, hospitals, universities and prisons as well as to local NGOs supporting education in Sierra Leone. The books range from children’s phonics books and early readers to academic texts, medical and healthcare books and adult fiction.

The Ebola crisis has had a devastating effect on life in the West African country, but was declared over in late 2015. As the country begins to rebuild, Book Aid International hopes its support can help people get back to normal life and restart their education. Libraries in the country are generally well-used but many of the book collections are outdated.

Book Aid International Director Alison Hubert said: “We are delighted to be able to support library services in Sierra Leone at such a crucial point in the country’s redevelopment. Although recent events in Sierra Leone have been devastating, we have been very encouraged by the dynamism and commitment of the Sierra Leone Library Board to help people continue in their lifelong learning even in the most challenging of circumstances. There are many great outreach projects being implemented in Sierra Leone that help people to access books and reading resources and we hope our books can play a small part in helping Sierra Leone and its people to rebuild and to fulfil their own potential.”

Sallieu Touray, Chief Librarian at Sierra Leone Library Board said: “The intervention Book Aid International is making at this critical time with a shipment of 38,000 relevant books to Sierra Leone for distribution and reading promotion activities is a great boost to the education sector.  More users, pupils,students, and educators will be exposed to books (the most important resource in education) and this will enhance teaching and learning in Sierra Leone.”

Book Aid International works in 12 African countries and the Occupied Palestinian Territories to distribute books and learning resources and to train librarians. The charity partners with local library services and communities to provide safe, engaging spaces to access books and reading. Visit www.bookaid.org for more information.



For further information, pictures or comment please contact Jessica Faulkner, Head of Communications at Book Aid International.

e: jessica.faulkner@bookaid.org

t: 020 7326 5800

About Book Aid International

Book Aid International works in partnership with libraries in Africa, providing new books, resources and training to support an environment in which reading for pleasure, study and lifelong learning can flourish. The charity’s vision is of vibrant libraries that inspire readers and empower communities.

Book Aid International works in 12 African countries and the Occupied Palestinian Territories to distribute books and learning resources and to train librarians. The charity partners with local library services and communities to provide engaging spaces to access books and reading. Visit www.bookaid.org for more information.

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