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Finding a place for books...

Angela Ward, Professor Emerita at the University of Saskatchewan, is a CODE expert-volunteer working on Reading Kenya, CODE's comprehensive readership intiative in the country. Along with Dr. Pamela Winsor, from the University of Lethbridge, she acts as a lead trainer, providing training to educator who will then go on to train their colleagues across Kajiado in how to better teach reading and writing. In this blog post, she writes about her second trip to Kenya in August 2014 as part of the project. 

Finding a place for books...

by Dr. Angela Ward

      Dr. Angela Ward with a group of workshop participants.

Recently, I visited schools in Kajiado County, Kenya, where CODE is just beginning a major initiative.  Along with local project officers and partners from the National Book Development Council of Kenya (CODE's local partner), we drove across the savannah to schools where participants in our Reading Kenya project were starting the school term.  Head teachers and local educational leaders have been participating in workshops that will enable them to support and train teachers in active reading methods in lower primary classes.  As an additional part of the project, one teacher from each of the first cohort of 25 schools has been selected for library skills training workshops. 

In each of the schools we visited, the greatest excitement was shown for…empty shelves!  We were led with great fanfare to newly constructed shelves, waiting for books that will soon be delivered to our project schools.  None of the schools had an existing library, but had shown great ingenuity in finding space for bookshelves.  In one case, the staffroom was divided into two, with shelves installed into one half of the room, giving pupils potentially excellent access to the new library.  In another school, a small freestanding building that had been the head’s office before new school buildings were constructed, had been filled with shelves. The head teacher has moved several desks into the space, so that pupils will be able to sit and read in their new library. The school’s future librarian was smiling broadly as we “toured” the small library.  There is a plan for a parent gathering to celebrate when the new books arrive and are put on the shelves.  The anticipated books include engaging stories suitable for young children, written in Kiswahili and in English; workshop participants have already worked with the books, and are very anxious to have them in their schools and see their pupils reading them! 

CODE is fulfilling its mission to bring literacy and books to communities in Kajiado County.  Those shelves won’t be filled this month, but there will be books and small libraries in schools where there were none at all before.  I look forward to watching those small libraries grow over the four years of the project, and to seeing pupils reading engaging materials that reflect their own lives and interests. 

Read more about Reading Kenya