Students at Valley Learning Centre's New Library
Kitabu Changu Haki Yangu (Swahilli for My Book, My Right) is a literacy program aimed at building libraries and resource centres in the slums and rural parts of Kisumu County in Kenya.
With students in these areas barely being able to access school text books, having access to story books and activity books among a wider range of books is a distant dream. This project makes this dream a reality and introduces the power of imagination and ideas that will open up their lives and dare them to dream of greater possibilities than their current surroundings allow them.
This program creates resource centres that allow both current and future students to have access to text books (something both parents and the government are unable to provide). It is our belief this will take the burden off parents, encouraging them to enrol their children in school at the right age and pursue education. More importantly, it gives the students access to a much needed wider range of books, especially story books that will expose them to different ideas and worlds, improve their literacy and vocabulary and inspire them to dream big.
While the planet leaps from one technological advancement to the next at a dizzying speed, children in these areas continue to lag behind exponentially. Access to hard copies of books is the first step. However, it is imperative that the students have access to newer forms of reading like e-readers to be at par and connect with students of their age in other parts of the country and the world. It will provide a longer-term solution that is cost-effective, space-efficient and easier to manage in the long run.
Why is there a need for a Literacy Program?
Despite being one of the more developed counties in the country, Kisumu ranks very poorly at 30 out of 47 counties in terms of literacy rates. With an estimated 202 million illiterate people, Sub-Saharan Africa is considered to have the lowest literacy rates in the world.
At 87%, Kenyan youth have a much higher literacy rate than that of Sub-Saharan Africa. Kisumu, however, lags behind at 66%. (Please note: this is the latest data available for Kisumu from a 2013 report. The current number may be slightly different).
What Progress Have we made?
Since starting this program, we have distributed over 1,000 exercise books and pencils each among other learning material to the various schools we work with. We have made small makeshift libraries at 3 schools (Valley, Soko and Elimu) where students now have access to nearly 800 story books. We conducted our first Reading and Storytelling Workshop with some of the most enthusiastic volunteers we have had the honour of working with who spent time with the children teaching and introducing them to books and reading in a fun and positive way.
Literacy Rates Explained
Classroom Session at Valley Learning Centre