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.
Many schools in sub-Saharan Africa do not have libraries of their own. As a result, pupils often struggle to learn to read and succeed in their education.
The EJ Yancy Annex School in Liberia was one such school but thanks to your support, they have now created their own Explorer School Library filled with brand new books!
The school’s Principal, D. Kabawala O. Mulba, tells us about the new library and how it’s books are helping his pupils – and the wider community.
Our school is in an urban town, Kakata, but located in the most underdeveloped part. It is not a reading community and illiteracy is very high. The community is also economically challenged. Most of the people are engaged in small trading businesses.
All of the homes in our community do not have books because parents cannot afford to buy books. Before, our school also had very few books.
Book Aid International helped us establish our school library through the Explorer School Library project which began in December 2018. The project included training two of our teachers to manage the library.
The project is helping us promote reading in our school through the provision of quality reading books, textbooks and other information books. It’s also improved teaching through the use of textbooks and other books for instruction. Our teacher-librarians can now work with the students and teachers and encourage them to use the library more effectively.
Now my school has books, more reading is being done.
Students now have books and quality ones at that; books that cover all levels of our elementary school.
Our students are not waiting for teachers to take the books to them in the classroom, or for the teachers to send them to the library but are coming themselves to read. They use the books for their school work and to read for pleasure.
The books are a great help to the children.
One particular area the books are helping is in the Girls Accelerated Learning Initiative (GALI) program. Most of children, especially the over-age girls [girls who started school late], are far below their grade levels which the GALI program is working to improve.
The girls meet mostly in the library and the books are helping these girls improve their reading skills and performance in their classes. Some have even been promoted [to the next grade] twice this school year.
Without these books, our students would have had no materials to read, do their homework, while teachers would have had difficulties in finding materials to prepare their lessons.
Our new library now serves as a ‘public library’ for the community, since there is none in our community. It serves other students of the community who don’t attend E.J. Yancy Annex School. The library also serves adults of the community where they can come to read newspapers and magazines, as well as the other books in the library including the novels for leisure reading.
Our school has a goal to see our library include books on farming, gardening and books on life skills: plumbing, carpentry, auto and small machines repair, etc. We see ourselves opening more services to the community with reading being our focus, making our community more literate.
We would like to thank local Liberian NGO WE-CARE for their partnership in the Explorer School Libraries project.
Thanks to the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we are now expanding the Explorer School Library project to schools in West Africa.
17 year old Dalia grew up in the city of Ramallah. Ramallah is located in the West Bank, which is part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
Like many people living in OPT, her movements are restricted and life can be unpredictable. She attends St Joseph Elementary School in Ramallah where she finds solace in books and her hope for the future of her country in education.
I live in Ramallah in the West Bank. It’s a really wonderful city. People here have a lot of hospitality. They like to talk to everyone, they help each other. You never feel lonely because you always have people around you, but at the same time we have a lot of challenges, and some days you’re just depressed.
We sometimes cannot go places because there are checkpoints on the roads. My grandfather’s home is in Jerusalem so we have problems visiting because of the check point. We need permission to visit my grandfather and my aunts and cousins.
Once, when I was younger and we had just moved into our home, soldiers came into our home in the middle of the night and searched the house. We children were sleeping and my mum was really scared because they had guns. They can come at any time, so you don’t feel safe. This feeling, it affects everyone. If it’s not you personally, it’s your neighbours, your friends, everyone.
When I feel happy or sad, you’ll find me here in the school library digging through the books. I feel really peaceful here because you’re out of reality. If you have any problems, you’re not thinking of them, you’re thinking of the book you’re reading – the stories, the adventures that are happening in the book. It takes you to another place. It’s like you’re flying away.
My favourite books are crime stories by Agatha Christie. In one book, she mentioned Palestine. I was like ‘oh my goodness, Palestine was a really interesting place!’
I also really like reading about Palestinian people – their experiences, their lives and how Palestine used to be. It used to be the place for culture. But now it is not that way. As young Palestinians, we should change that through our education, through reading books. So that’s what I really encourage other young people to do.
Through education, we can things here so there is no more war and killing. Despite the suffering we live in, we can achieve things in life, change things and change our history.
The hope that Dalia finds in books is a poignant reminder of how value books are even for those facing conflict and political uncertainty. We are proud to support Dalia’s school and many other schools across the Occupied Palestinian Territories and other countries affected by conflict and crisis, such as Sierra Leone.
We hope to reach out to more readers like Dalia who face enormous challenges when they seek to access books over the next four years. Find out more or be a part of our work using the links below.