Recently, Book Aid International launched a partnership project with National Library of Uganda and Worldreader to bring e-readers into Children’s Corners. 10 libraries in Uganda now have 20 e-readers each, preloaded with 200 titles to support education and reading. Here, Stella Nekuusa, Principal Librarian for National Library of Uganda, tells us what impact the project will have.
Everybody is interested in moving ahead with the rest of the world and embracing digital, or DOT.COM as we call it in Uganda. Recently, National Library of Uganda was delighted to launch a partnership project with Book Aid International and Worldreader to bring e-readers into Children’s Corners in Ugandan libraries. Through using the e-readers the children will be introduced to using computers and more importantly, using them for an educational purpose.
Many of the primary schools in the vicinity of the libraries involved do not have school libraries and those that do have libraries usually only have textbooks. The children are held back from learning about anything beyond what is taught in school. Now with the e-readers they have hundreds of books at their fingertips, with content from all over the world including African content and Ugandan titles. This makes a real difference for them as they can recognise the world which they read about in their books.
This project is bringing children of the poorer communities on board with IT and this has put smiles on their faces because computers were not something they thought they would get access to any time soon. Over 90% of these children do not have computers at home and we see parents, even teachers, getting jealous of their children getting there before them to try something new!
Training was provided by Worldreader earlier this month to help librarians and children make the most of the resource. The librarians have been equipped with the skills to work with children and assist them find what they are interested in to explore their natural talents and build them further through reading.
The digital content will give access to books which parents can rarely afford for their children. The e-readers are especially useful as they do not suffer the wear and tear that books can – especially the most popular stories. The pilot projects that Book Aid International has run in Kenya have seen almost zero damage to the e-readers because the training provided helps librarians to look after them and to help children to do the same.
With the e-readers children have discovered that there is a wealth of storybooks and non-fiction books available for them in beautiful colourful pictures and stories they relate to at their age. The learning process has been made more independent as they teach themselves the meaning of words by checking them out from the inbuilt programmed dictionary.
We believe that our work of promoting a reading culture has received a real boost because children that have accessed stories on e-readers are now picking printed books to read whenever it’s not their time to use the e-readers. Soon we shall realise how reading improves their vocabulary and ability to express themselves and confidence to communicate in the English language.
This project is generously supported in part by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, who have been supporting Book Aid International since 2014.