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How libraries can keep the power of reading going when schools close_Prince Kay-Takrama.pdf (694.52 kB)

Beyond the school gates: How libraries can keep the power of reading going when schools close

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posted on 2023-12-23, 11:23 authored by Prince Kay-Takrama, James Njuguna Kimani

Conflict and health emergencies such as Covid-19 create massive disruption of children’s education. Sometimes, these emergencies cause school closures and force relocation to refugee camp schools. Book Aid International and partners have been responding to such emergencies through the creation of simple and effective school libraries through the Reading for All (RFA) and Books to Go (B2G) projects. The overall objective was to observe how simple libraries, through outreach services to underserved communities including refugee populations, help ensure inclusive and equitable access to quality education for all. With the advent of Covid-19 pandemic, learning across many countries was seriously affected by prolonged closure of African schools between 2020 and 2022, including refugee settlement camps. The RFA Rhino Camp project provided vulnerable refugee children with learning opportunities in Uganda. The project supported the development of school libraries in 14 Early Childhood Development (ECD), 24 Primary and three secondary schools, by providing age-appropriate books, book storage and training for teaching staff. The B2G intervention engaged 20 poorly resourced primary schools across Kenya, Zanzibar, Ghana and Sierra Leone by establishing book-lending schemes that enabled children to read at home. The schools received books and book bags to facilitate book lending and teachers were trained to facilitate lending of books and reading promotion activities. The RFA project increased access to books among learners, facilitating learning and developing a love for reading. During the lockdown, teachers took books to learners at home where they facilitated group reading. The B2G project provided books to be taken home by more than 12,000 learners, providing the much-needed stress relief and opportunity for learning with carers and siblings during lockdown; both facilitated a continuation of ECD, Primary and Secondary education through the development of reading as a fundamental learning skill. The RFA and B2G were effective interventions that contributed to creating a more equal African society through increased access to books for literacy development among vulnerable children in line with Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) – on quality education, and indirectly contributed to SDG 8 (on preparing refugees for ‘Decent work & Economic Growth’ in the future). Access to books to read within the home environment provided vulnerable children with hope, promoted literacy development, and kept the flames of learning burning during very challenging times. These outcomes illustrate that the RFA and B2G are effective models for equitable literacy development and are replicable in both basic and secondary schools.

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