65.6 million people around the world have fled their homes. Among them are more than 10 million children.

Whether taking refuge in a faraway country during war, leaving home to escape discrimination or living in a tent just down the road following a natural disaster, displaced people feel a world away from the life they knew. Many will wait years, or even generations, to be resettled or to return home.

People who have been forced from their homes urgently need access to books so that they can continue an interrupted education, find temporary escape from the challenges they face and imagine a brighter future. The need is particularly urgent for children. Displaced children often miss out on critical stages of their educations, and that lost learning can have life-long implications. Yet many refugees have little or no access to books.

Reading for all in Kakuma refugee camp

185,859 people live in Kakuma refugee camp in Northern Kenya, 36,596 of whom are under the age of 18. They cannot leave the camp without special permission, so their opportunities to learn and experience the wider world are severely limited. Their schools are hugely overcrowded and poorly resourced. Over 100 learners often share a single teacher and a few tattered textbooks, and no primary schools have libraries.

We are working with the two non-profit organisations which provide all of the education for the camp’s young people, The Lutheran World Federation and Windle Trust International, to ensure that pupils have access to the books they need to succeed in education.

Together with our partners, we will create 42 Classroom Book Boxes filled with brand new, carefully selected books in seven early childhood development centres and primary schools. These books will be readily available during lessons, enriching learning and getting young children excited about reading. We will also replenish the libraries of five secondary schools across the camp. An estimated 25,000 children and young people will have access to these books.

Providing the right books

Each school will receive carefully selected books chosen to support their learning. Primary schools and early education centres will have Classroom Book Boxes stocked with picture and phonics books, while secondary school Book Box libraries will be full of revision guides and inspiring non-fiction. Each partner will also receive a grant to purchase local books which reflect young readers’ own life experiences as well as textbooks and early childhood development learning aids.

Investing in teachers

In addition, teachers in each school will also be trained in how to use books to enrich classroom learning and help young people succeed in education. This training is vital, as early childhood teachers and primary school teachers currently have no books and have not received training in how to help early learners develop pre-reading skills.

In secondary schools, training will equip refugee teachers with skills in using supplementary books to teach and prepare young people for their exams.

The Solar Homework Club

Thanks to additional funding from the Intouch Global Foundation, we are also providing solar lamps that students can borrow along with their books in the evenings. As most students do not have electricity at home – they often struggle to study after school. Six schools are currently taking part, with an estimated 1,700 pupils benefiting, and we hope to roll the programme out more broadly in the future.

Looking to the future

Reading for all Kakuma has been supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, and we would like to thank all of the players for making it possible for us to reach 25,000 young refugees.

But we also know that there is much more to do. 20 more people are displaced every minute of every day, and they all need access to books. We hope to reach as many of them as possible to make Reading for all a reality.

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