The Digital Connections Children’s Corners project took place in Tanzania and Zanzibar from 2017 to 2018 in partnership with the Tanzania Library Services Board (TLSB) and the Zanzibar Library Service (ZLS).
The project aimed to enhance children’s library services in selected libraries in Tanzania and Zanzibar. A total of nine TLSB libraries and two ZLS libraries took part. Of these, five TLBS and two ZLS libraries created new Children’s Corners – child-friendly library spaces. The remaining five TLSB libraries which already had Children’s Corners implemented a digital component, introducing Kio Kit tablets to use alongside printed books.
Two evaluations were undertaken to look at the findings and recommendations from the project. One evaluation focused on the Children’s Corners sites which you can read here and the other looked at the Kio Kit sites which you can read here.
Increased library use by children
Both the libraries with new Children’s Corners and those which have introduced Kio Kit tablets have seen an increase in children using the libraries and borrowing of printed books to read at home.
Librarians’s skills have increased
Librarians in libraries with new Children’s Corners report that as a result of the progamme training, their skills now extend far beyond issuing and shelving books. They now lead reading and other activities with the children.
Librarians working in those libraries which received Kio Kits now have the skills to introduce children to tablets and lead a range of individual and group activities using the devices.
Schools are also benefitting from the new reading materials
Local schools are bringing their classes to use the new Children’s Corners during the daytime to take part in reading activities. The Children’s Corners are proving so popular that libraries are having to ask schools to bring pupils at a scheduled time each week to avoid overcrowding.
Some of those libraries with Kio Kits are taking them out to local schools for pupils to use in class while others are running activities for classes to attend in the library during the school day.
Digital Connections Children’s Corners is generously funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. We would like to thank them for their ongoing support.
In this bright, beautifully illustrated picture book, the reader joins a group of children on a journey through the grasslands of Tanzania. Along the way, they encounter a variety of African animals, counting them in Swahili as they go.
The book includes a map of Tanzania and facts about the country, the Maasai people and each of the different animals discovered in the story. There’s even an illustrated guide to counting in Swahili.
Children’s books set in specific countries in Africa are especially treasured and can be hard to come by. This beautiful book will be loved by children in Tanzania as they see their home brought to life on the page.
Copies of this book are now on their way to our partners including the Tanzania Library Services Board where the familiar landscapes and animals will resonate with the children and aid learning and engagement with reading. It will also be enjoyed by children living in rural communities elsewhere in Africa.
Last month, our partners across 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa celebrated International Literacy Day and the power of reading with some of the communities they work in.
From Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania’s bustling capital city to remote, rural Zimbabwe, hundreds of school children took part in reading and spelling competitions, performed marches, dances, songs and dramas, gave presentations and speeches and engaged in debates.
Local dignitaries and government officials attended as did local and national media, teachers, parents, publishers and writers as well as members of the wider communities. And all with the aim of promoting reading and raising the profile of libraries and the services they offer.
As part of the celebrations, each partner gave out 600 brand new, inspiring books that you have helped to send as prizes for participants and for schools to add to their library collections. Our hope is that these books will enable children to continue to enjoy reading long after the excitement of the celebrations have faded.
Occasions like International Literacy Day provide the perfect opportunity to promote reading and literacy. Find out more about some of our partners’ celebrations below.
Celebrations took place at EISERVI’s library in Cameroon’s capital city Yaoundé.
Once the day’s celebrations were over, children who had never visited EISERVI’s library before were keen to return as soon as they could:
Aunty, I like your library and I would like to come here and read after school. Can I?
– Wenyi Favour, Government Primary School.
In Zimbabwe, Edward Ndlovu Memorial Trust took their celebrations to Selonga Primary School’s community library in rural Gwanda where pupils from neighbouring schools as well as their parents and the wider community joined them.
In addition to competitions, performances and presentations by the children, older people from the community read short stories and spoke of how literacy has enabled them to better their own lives and the lives of their families.
Being literate is important for everyone, young and old. In this fast-changing world, being illiterate will make you lose out on a lot of things – even being in touch with the larger outside world.
– Mrs Mathe.
Kenya National Library Service’s celebrations focused on Kwale branch library. Kwale County has the second highest rate of poverty in the country and a large percentage of school drop outs. This event was a great opportunity to promote reading and the library as a means of learning outside of formal education.
It changed the way I thought about reading. I thought reading was only for academic purposes …
– Benjamin Wabwire, teacher.
Our partner CODE Ethiopia celebrated International Literacy Day at Ejere Community Library in rural Ejere town.
Becoming a reader is a must.
– Tsige, teacher.
Apart from serving the local community, I myself have got a lot that changed my life from this library.
– Lemma Kefeni, retired teacher and former librarian.
The Sierra Leone Library Board marked International Literacy Day with an event at their headquarters library in Freetown.
There was huge excitement among the children that attended – for many of them it was the first time they had participated in an event like this.
This year, the Library and Information Association of Eritrea held their celebrations at six public and community libraries across the Maekel, South and Anseba regions. This included two prisons where inmates gave speeches about the importance of reading in their lives. One 92-year-old female prisoner spoke about how she had completed first grade for the first time and is now preparing to enter second grade:
I will keep reading until my eyes no longer allow me to do so.
Grace Rwanda celebrated International Literacy Day at Ineza Children’s Corner in the Shyorongi Sector of the Northern Province.
The library has already seen an increase in visits from children and schools as a result of the event.
There are books we needed but couldn’t find them and we had limited books but now these books are here, we will read them much!
– Byaruhanga Moses, a pupil at GS Rwisirabo
International Literacy Day celebrations were also held by our partners in Liberia, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and Zanzibar.