It gives me great pleasure to introduce our new strategy.

At Book Aid International we know that readers around the world face unprecedented challenges. The Covid pandemic has closed thousands of classrooms and pushed millions into poverty. Climate change is impacting communities around the world, and conflict and displacement are putting countless livelihoods and lives at risk. 

A book might seem like a small thing in the fight against inequality – but we see every day how a book can spark a transformation. That knowledge is at the heart of this strategy. 

Between now and 2025 we will focus on creating the opportunity to read for people who face the greatest barriers to learning – sharing the power of the book and helping to create a more equal world. This strategy is our next step towards our vision of a world where everyone has access to books – and we invite you to take it with us. 

Strategy Overview

In our new strategy we have four key goals: equity, engagement, partnership and advocacy

These four goals all contribute to our vision of a world where everyone has access to the books they need to enrich, improve and change their lives.

To ensure equity of access to books we are focusing our work on the places with the fewest resources and on the most marginalised communities, giving more disadvantaged people opportunities to realise their potential.

To improve access to books and get people engaged with reading we are working with NGO and library partners to support school, community and public libraries: anywhere where people can come together and read. And in everything we do we will advocate and speak out for the power of books to improve and change lives.

Goal 1: Equity

We will prioritise reaching more of the people who face the greatest barriers to reading and learning.

Our equity goal focuses on creating access to books where lives are impacted by poverty and inequality, where people are excluded from the opportunity to read and when conflict and disaster disrupt lives. It also commits us to ensuring that all of our work contributes to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

We will:

1. Focus on the poorest communities

Books enrich education and give people the opportunity to learn new skills throughout their lives – and with this lifelong learning comes the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty.

In this strategy period, we will focus on creating access to books for people in countries with high levels of poverty, particularly rural populations and under-served urban communities.

By 2025 60% of the books we donate will reach low-income countries.

2. Reach excluded readers

The most disadvantaged people are often excluded from opportunities to learn. Women and girls and people displaced from their homes are particularly at risk. For them, books in libraries and classrooms may be out of reach.

Moving forward, we will focus on creating opportunities for reading and learning to flourish for people who have been marginalised by partnering with NGOs who focus on these communities.

By 2025 65% of the books we provide will support the work of NGOs.

3. Respond to crisis

Climate change, conflict and disaster are increasingly forcing people from their homes, closing schools, destroying libraries and leaving millions without the chance to read.

Books offer the chance to return to education or take refuge in a great story. In this strategy period we will respond where lives are disrupted by these crises, especially when books are lost.

By 2025 35% of our work will take place in countries recovering from or affected by conflict and disaster.

4. Support quality education, good health and gender equality

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity. At its heart are 17 goals which recognise that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with improving health and education, reducing inequality and spurring economic growth.

Moving forward, we will continue to align our work with the SDGs because we know that by facilitating access to information and giving everyone the chance to learn, we can contribute to delivering the Agenda for Sustainable Development

By 2025 all of our work will support the delivery of the SDGs, particularly in the provision of quality education, good health and gender equality.

Goal 2: Engagement

We will work to engage more people with reading, especially in under-served, rural and marginalised communities.

Through our engagement goal we will create rich, diverse and relevant book collections in school libraries, community reading spaces and library outreach services to inspire communities throughout – and beyond – Africa to read, learn and experience the transformational power of books.

We will:

1. Create vibrant school libraries

School libraries full of brand new, well-chosen books help pupils become confident readers, curious learners and, eventually, school leavers with ambition to succeed. School libraries also support teachers in creating rich, engaging lessons and offer a valuable resource for the whole community to access and enjoy.

Moving forward, we will grow our work supporting school libraries and training teachers in how to use books to enrich learning.

By 2025 we will establish or equip over 1,500 school libraries every year.

2. Give communities access to books

Public, community and mobile libraries give people from all walks of life the opportunity to engage with books and reading. And well-stocked libraries – whether in a city, a township or a remote village – act as vital information hubs for the whole community.

Between now and 2025 we will partner with public and community libraries to engage whole communities in reading through book donations, a range of dynamic events and other activities.

By 2025 we will set up or support at least 50 new community libraries.

3. Work around the world

Demand is growing around the world for books to support education, improve competence in English and enhance life chances. The need is particularly acute where people are displaced from their homes or cut off from formal education.

In the years to come, we will expand our work beyond Africa focusing on communities where there is a real need for the books we can provide.

By 2025 we will partner with at least 25 new NGOs outside Africa.

4. Curate rich and diverse book collections

Children and adults are far more likely to engage with reading if they have rich and varied collections from which they can choose the books they want to read.

In this strategy period we will work with UK and local publishers to expand the range of books we can provide around the world – working to ensure that everyone can find a book which suits their needs and fires their imagination.

By 2025 we will secure more donated books from publishers, increasing the number of books donated every year.

Goal 3: Partnership

We will develop dynamic partnerships with organisations that share our vision of creating more equitable access to books.

By supporting our partners and enabling them to do more, we can create sustainable change for the people who need books most. So in this strategy period, we will invest in our partners, helping build their skills to deliver programmes which enable people to read.

We will engage more in-country trainers to deliver our projects and programmes and upskill local teachers and librarians through a ‘train the trainer’ model. Those teachers and librarians can then go on to share their skills with others.

We will also grow and diversify our partner network – establishing new partnerships with NGOs within and beyond the education space. In addition, we will work with local publishers, reading agencies, library associations and other groups which exist to promote the value of reading.

By 2025 we will: 

  • Upskill 30 local trainers
  • Increase the percentage of locally published books in our projects
  • Increase our partnerships with a more diverse range of NGOs

Partnership in action

Our work will increasingly provide the books, training and support that a diverse range of organisations need to deliver their programmes. One such partner is conservation charity Africa Parks.

“Education is central to our community development strategy, which is aimed at ensuring people living around the reserve both value and benefit from its existence. These wonderful books provided through our partnership with Book Aid International will help us to show young people here in our communities the significance of the world’s natural heritage, which we have a shared responsibility to protect.”

– Samuel Kamoto, Africa Parks Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve Park Manager, Malawi 

Goal 4: Advocacy

We will be advocates for the transformational power of books

Where there are important discussions about reading and education, we will engage with international and local organisations to promote books and reading. We will also use our event appearances, contacts and channels to increase awareness of the need for books globally.

In all of our work we will highlight the power of books, supporting our partners and readers to share their stories of how books change lives and using those stories to inspire action.

What we do in the UK is only part of the solution, so we will also support our partners to raise the profile of books in their own communities by expanding our Reading Promotion programme.

By 2025 we will:

  • Expand our Reading Promotion activities to 20 countries
  • Increase audience reach and engagement across all channels

Advocacy in action

Moving forward, we will do more to support our partners’ work advocating for the book in their own communities – as we have in Ghana.

“There are still a huge number of Ghanaians who are neither able to read nor write. This can be attributed to the fact that there is not enough advocacy of the value of books and reading in Ghana. The Reading Promotion programme gives us the chance to raise the profile reading in schools, institutions and libraries.”

– Godbless Duncan-Amissah, Projects Manager, Ghana Library Authority

Fit for the future

To achieve our goals, we must ensure that we have the people, resources and infrastructure to take up opportunities, face challenges and respond to a rapidly changing world. Between now and 2025, we will have three key focus areas: