Over the course of 12 months, Book Aid International worked in partnership with Zambia Open Community Schools (ZOCS) to set up libraries in 15 community schools in the Lusaka and Central provinces of Zambia. The project Final Evaluation Report has now been published.
Community schools in Zambia are vital for the thousands of children who cannot get to or afford to attend a government school, however these schools do not receive any government funding and often operate with very few resources, including books. The project aimed to improve the quality of education in community schools in Zambia by providing each of the 15 schools with new books and teacher training.
Each school received 1,500 brand new books from the UK, 300 local curriculum books and two trunks in which to store their books. Two teachers from each school also attended workshops in how to manage their library and make use of books in the classroom.
Lessons learned by the evaluation include:
– New reading periods have been established that are likely to help improve pupils’ reading in the short to medium term. – Lending books to children is only taking place in three out of five schools because teachers fear the books would not be returned. – Teachers reported an average 191% increase in their knowledge of library related matters since the project began. – Teachers are using books in the classroom to teach multiple subjects. One teacher reported using a science book called ‘The Human Body’ to teach biology and another used a book about Volcanoes to teach a geography lesson. – Teachers are using creativity to improve learning environments.Some teachers have used maize sacks to create book pockets on their classroom walls. Drawing children’s attention to books generates interest and can lead to more reading.
To date, players of People’s Postcode Lottery have provided an amazing £900,000 to help more people access books that will enrich, improve and change their lives. Players’ contributions to our charity are simply amazing, so earlier this year we were delighted to host People’s Postcode Lottery Managing Director Jo Bucci, Customer Experience Operations Manager Louise Donkin and Network Solutions Architect Amjad Ali Shaikh to visit one of the schools that players help us support on the island of Unguja in Zanzibar.
In this blog, our Head of Fundraising Hannah Watson reflects on the visit and why the support of players is so important to our work in Zanzibar and across Africa.
Zanzibar is a Tanzanian archipelago off the coast of East Africa. Our charity has worked in Tanzania since 1960 and every year we distribute thousands of books to libraries and schools as well as running projects which invest in library and school services.
There is a great demand for books across Zanzibar, but libraries and schools have very little budget for purchasing books, so classrooms rarely have anything more than a few textbooks issued by the government. Zanzibar’s children are taught in the national language of Swahili until Year Four, after which they are taught in English, so there is a particular demand for English books to help children make this transition. Thanks to the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we are able to provide many of these books into the schools that need them most and we took Jo, Louise and Amjad to one of those schools.
Our visit started with an early morning trip to Regeza Mwenda Primary School, where more than 2,000 pupils have lessons during the morning before giving over the whole school building to the afternoon shift of secondary school students. This shift system isn’t unusual on Zanzibar, where a growing population and squeezed government resources results in overcrowding in many schools, but Jo, Louise and Amjad were still surprised to see that some classes had to be held out of doors because there wasn’t enough room in the small classrooms, some of which don’t even have furniture.
Despite the challenges the school is facing, we received a lovely warm welcome from the staff and pupils and it was great to see how the school have been using their books. I was inspired to see how hands on Jo, Louise and Amjad were! They got straight down to meeting the children and reading with them. People’s Postcode Lottery is based in Edinburgh so they had brought some beautiful new books about Scotland as gifts. Jo confessed she was worried that they might find words like Edinburgh or concepts like the Loch Ness Monster difficult to understand, but the children immediately began reading with the visitors and loved learning about the new places and ideas!
In the afternoon, we visited the main library to attend the opening ceremony of the new Children’s Corner. Local children entertained the visitors with their traditional dancing and singing, before getting a chance to use the corner themselves and take part in fun reading activities put on by the librarians, while smaller children got to grips with some board books and enjoyed running around in their brand new space.
The generosity of players of People’s Postcode Lottery allows us to do so much and it was absolutely wonderful to see Jo, Louise and Amjad interacting with just of a few of the many thousands of readers who benefit from the £900,000 we have so far received. The timing of the visit was also fantastic, as players of People’s Postcode Lottery are funding the Zanzibar library service to celebrate International Literacy Day on 8 September. These funds will allow the library to welcome more people into reading and helping them create spaces where literacy can thrive and we cannot thank the players enough.
I thoroughly enjoyed giving People’s Postcode Lottery staff a close-up view of what players’ generosity makes possible and we look forward to many more years of working together.
Our entire team here at Book Aid International would like to thank People’s Postcode Lottery for sending Jo, Louise and Amjad to Zanzibar – we hope they enjoyed the visit as much as we did!
Zanzibar is just one of the places where literacy is thriving. Players are also funding International Literacy Day celebrations in 10 other countries and territories. These celebrations take place on Friday, 8 September. For real time updates or to see more of the places where literacy is thriving, follow@book_aid or read our ‘where literacy thrives’ blog.
Between 2011 and 2016, Book Aid International partnered with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) Tanzania in a project to increase the literacy skills of primary school children in poor and remote areas in the Kagera region of mainland Tanzania. The published report is now available.
The School Library in a Box project targeted schools which did not have a library of their own and had very few books in the classrooms. It aimed to do this by providing 64 schools in the region with book box libraries filled with books in English and Kiswahili and training for teachers in how to teach reading activities that help develop reading comprehension skills in both English and Kiswahili.
As part of the School Library in a Box project, Book Aid International supplied over 24,500 brand new bright and engaging children’s books to fill the schools’ book box libraries, grants to purchase locally published titles in Kiswahili and funding to support teacher training delivered by VSO.
This is VSO’s report detailing all that has been implemented and achieved between 2011 and 2016. The School Library in a Box project has contributed to a notable improvement in pupils’ reading abilities with a 13% increase in Kiswahili reading test scores and a massive 39% increase in English reading test scores.