There is a huge demand for university core texts and higher-level academic books, the cost of which can be prohibitive for many institutions and individuals, especially as most are published abroad and can incur high import duty. Additionally, many universities lack the funds or infrastructure to fund subscriptions to online resources.
Students are therefore often unable to access the books they need within their place of study and those that are available are often old and out-of-date. Some institutions have even had to change their set texts as they are unable to supply the titles they would otherwise recommend.
This poses obvious challenges to students’ own learning but also to the wider development of knowledge and expertise in these fields of study. If Africa is to be in a position to compete in a global market, it is vital that its students can study with appropriate, up-to-date resources.
Supporting higher education through book provision
We support a wide range of higher education institutions – universities, teacher training colleges, nursing colleges, vocational training institutions and polytechnics – through the provision of up-to-date and relevant tertiary books generously donated by leading educational publishers.
Our book selection team, led by a qualified librarian, works closely with partners to select those books that most closely meet their needs. In some cases these books are also donated to public and community libraries, where they can be accessed by students but also by all members of the community.
The books we supply support a wide range of fields of study: arts, science, social science, medicine and healthcare, law, business studies, vocational and technical skills, and teacher training.
Examples of the institutions we support
We provide academic books to over 300 institutions which would otherwise have small or out-of-date collections for their students.
For example, the University of Zambia in Copperbelt has 1,800 students but in 2015 had funds to buy only 30 books. Mr Peter Sampa, a lecturer at the university, tells us that books from Book Aid International account for 90 per cent of the library’s entire stock:
“Book donations from Book Aid International are very important to the University of Zambia Copperbelt Province, as the books are mainly serving our distance and part-time students who cannot access the library at the main Lusaka Campus due to distance and congestion. The donation has also helped in decongesting the only Public Library in Kitwe town.
The donation has greatly helped medical students who before the donations faced challenges to access medical books from public libraries that do not stock them. They have learnt that our library receive a variety of books that include health related books. So they have formed groups and come to borrow medical books, study and have discussions from our premises.”
Healthcare training colleges
The provision of up-to-date healthcare information is vital in Africa and we provided books to 91 such institutions in 2015. These institutions range from hospital libraries to nursing colleges and the medical faculties of universities.
Kenya Medical Training College, the leading medical education institution in Kenya, has over 23,000 students and 1,000 faculty staff across 42 sites. In 2015 we sent them over 2,000 brand new, up-to-date medical textbooks.
Dr Jebichi Maswan, Head of Institutional Advancement, told us:
“They are relevant, current and are not available for purchase locally. The newly established libraries lacked funds to purchase quality books but due to donation from Book Aid International, they now boast of latest titles.”
Technical and vocational colleges
We supply technical and vocational books to many colleges in Africa where people learn practical skills for employment. These include teacher training, IT skills, carpentry and agriculture. For many people in Africa learning these skills can be the difference between a life of subsistence farming and owning their own business.