St Vitalis Nang’a Primary School is located in a small fishing community on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya’s Kisumu County. Teachers at the school are working hard to give over 1,300 local children a good education. But without enough books for library lessons, it was hard – in fact the school didn’t have a library at all.
All that changed when local NGO The Rahul Kotak Foundation (RKF) worked with the school to turn an old storage unit into a beautiful library and filled it with brand new books that supporters like you have helped to send, giving pupils a wide range of books to explore for the first time.
Here, teachers and pupils from St Vitalis Nang’a Primary School tell us about the difference the books are making since the new library opened.
They say a book is a portal to another dimension. This library is a haven filled with thousands of such portals.
– The Rahul Kotak Foundation
The books in the new library are helping the children develop an interest in reading. These books have made reading fun!
– Seline Adele, teacher-librarian
I read a book and it really made me happy. The books make me want to tell people stories. Before, school was dull but now we have the library, I’m excited to read!
– John, pupil
We use the books to do free time reading. There are some really good books. I think they will improve pupils’ reading, their language and comprehension. Nowadays, storytelling is dying but with the library it is coming back.
– Jennifer Okoth, teacher
I love storybooks. I love buildings. I like to read and I want to be a civil engineer when I grow up. These books are helping me learn new words. Without this library it would be bad because I love reading, especially English books.
We believe that libraries are hugely important to communities. They are often the best place for people to discover the joy and value of reading and access the books and information they need to support their education and develop their skills. That’s why we’re a proud to support the Kenyan Library of the Year Awards.
The awards recognise the very best in library services in Kenya. Each year, we donate brand new, relevant books for each of the winning libraries’ collections. The competition is open to all types of library in Kenya and prizes are awarded to libraries in seven different categories including school, academic, public and community libraries as well as ‘special’ libraries. In this year’s award, a total of 18 libraries won, three per category.
The awards ceremony was held in September and we were especially pleased that our partner Kenya National Library Service’s (knls) Kisumu branch library was chosen as the overall winner. Two knls branch libraries in Buruburu and Nakuru as well as the Dr Robert Ouko Community Library in Koru were also winners. knls Narok also received a special mention.
We have worked closely with knls Kisumu library for a number of years. Located in western Kenya, the library has a well-used adult section and popular Children’s Corner. Both of these sections receive brand new books supplied by Book Aid International in every category from academic and professional texts to adult fiction and children’s books. The books we send reflect the wide variety of people from the local community who use the library.
We are particularly delighted to see the growth and work of the Children’s Corner. We developed knls Kisumu library’s Children’s Corner in partnership with knls in 2009 as part of the first 12 Corners we set up in Kenyan libraries. Just like the Children’s Corners we continue to create with our partners today, the Kisumu Children’s Corner received brand new children’s books, a grant to refurbish a space especially for children and a small grant to purchase locally published titles.
Two librarians also attended training in how to work effectively with children, manage a children’s corner and undertake outreach to schools and the community. Further funding enabled us to provide the Children’s Corner with tablets and training for the librarians in using the tablets with children, to support and supplement their printed book collection.
Since 2009, librarian Moses Imbayi and his team at knls Kisumu have continued to expand the library’s work, particularly with children. Through their school outreach programme, the library team now supports 1,700 school book clubs. Schools also regularly visit the Corner to take part in inter-school events including spelling bees, debates and reading competitions. In addition, the library uses the tablets to run a special programme to support children with dyslexia. They are seeing these children grow in confidence and migrate to printed books:
“We are seeing consistent improvement in their performance as far as reading is concerned. It is going to make our work as teachers easier. Teaching a child that can read on their own is much easier than teaching someone who cannot read.”
– Stephen Okong’o, Headteacher at Kaloleni Muslim Primary School, Kisumu.
It was many of these interventions and services that contributed to knls Kisumu library being chosen as the overall winner of the Library of the Year Award. We are proud to have played a part in the library’s success and delighted that their hard work has been recognised in the winning of this award.
We wish all the winning libraries, in particular Moses and his team at knls Kisumu huge congratulations on their achievement.