Education  Ghana Project #29847

Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans

by The African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Aug 30, 2021

Reading for improved school grades

Antonetta leads Advocacy and Partnership for reading to improve school grades among school children in Bulawayo

Achieving good results in the social service sector for some time now requires advocacy and partnerships. It has been found that government authorities alone cannot do everything. Government and stakeholders now work together to offer services and this is also common in libraries. The Bulawayo Public Library Service in Zimbabwe has been supported by the local authorities and supervising ministry to offer effective service to the public including children. It however did not have a strong link with schools and so this brought about low patronage of the libraries resulting in low access to library materials. The challenge of poor reading habits as a result of lack of and access to reading books needed to be tackled.

Branch libraries are sparsely situated in the high-density suburbs and some suburbs are a distance away from thedesignated library. In Bulawayo, children cannot attain library membership status on their own because they are minors but they could come into the library without their parents/guardians or school teachers to read.Thismeans that some children could not visit the library and those who did, could not borrow books to take home. It was also a fact that these children lacked reading materials during reading lessons as confirmed by the schools prior to the implementation of the Inspiring Readers (IR) programme. It was also observed that when the children visited the library, they copied short stories from library books into their notebooks to read at home and during reading lessons at school. This clearly showed their zeal to read and the gap that libraries had to fill in terms of access to reading materials for them.Although some children visited the libraries, there were no strong relationships between the schools and libraries.

The challenge at hand was going to be tackled by the Inspiring Readers (IR) School Project of the library, that needed someone who will justify the project to local authorities and the relevant ministry that governs schools that were intended to participate in the project. Antonetta, who has been a public librarian for over thirty years at the Bulawayo Public Library and had done much training to be considered a professional, lacked the zeal and vigor to stand and advocate for the development of libraries and so she did not offer any assistance.

The aim of the Inspiring Readers (IR) School Project was to increase interaction with reading materials among pupils in both local languages and English; develop the confidence and participation of pupils in class through the use of reading materials and the development of a reading habit ; enable teachers to have the skills, knowledge and confidence to support children in reading and learning, head-teachers to increase opportunities for children and teachers to use the book box in the school day, librarians to develop skills in running outreach services and supporting teachers’ professional development and promoting reading and access to learning.


It was at this time that Antonetta was selected to undergo training of INELI-SSAf on innovative library services. With the training Antonetta received from INELI-SSAf, she worked with three institutions – local authorities, relevant ministry and the schools, that needed to be involved in the project so that each will know the critical role each partner was going to play and what was to be done. She has trained other library staff to manage change and how to carry out advocacy and seek partnerships to help bring the change through the IR project.  

The project has established 5 hub libraries, that connect to 25 schools. The project enables children have access to books and interact more with them, while teachers have become more useful during reading lessons. Teachers have also been trained to manage the mini libraries at their schools so that all children have access to reading materials during and after school. These have strengthened the relationship between the library and the schools. As part of the project, Book Aid International donated 28,750 books to the libraries connected to the schools, 1,150 books per school; and 100 locally produced books added to create a mini school library. A donor donated a book cupboard and 2 boxes to carry books for each school and another donor funded the training of librarians and teachers. The City of Bulawayo also provided dedicated library staff to support the project.

The outcome of the project is that the schools involved reported a high pass rate in examinations; children’s membership in the library has risen from 756 to 2,175 comprising 1,268 girls and 907 boys (290% increase). The user numbers in the project libraries is 41,942 boys and 44,595 girls – a total of 86,537 children. Efforts are being put in place to increase the book stock.

The project is sustainable and this is evident in the fact that most of the schools have taken the initiative to mobilize resources to increase their book stock. Some of the schools havealso re-arranged their time tables to visit the public libraries close to them, whilst some have renovated some rooms in the schools to house the library.

Antonetta, with excitement, says that “Personally, before joining INELI -SSAf, I did not think I needed advocacy and partnership skills for my work as a librarian. I did not also know the importance of public libraries and librarianship in fostering development through SDGs. INELI -SSAf changed my attitude enabling me to play a leading role in the Inspiring Readers (IR) School Project and Book Aid International partnership and in a number of other partnerships particularly in establishing innovative library services. INELI- SSAf has taught me how to make libraries visible in the achievement of the UN SDGs especially as pertains to SDG 4 through to SDG 17. I am over the roof with excitement about the confidence and skills I had to engage local authorities, relevant ministry and stakeholders to also push through the Inspiring Readers (IR) School Project which has become a huge success. I now have the audacity to approach and influence management to adopt change. As a librarian in the public library, I now engage the community to identify gaps in information services. INELI-SSAf has changed my perspective of who I am and what I could do or achieve as a public librarian. I will remain visible as the face of public libraries in Bulawayo and as a librarian who advocates for development of public libraries”

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Organization Information

The African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA

Location: Accra - Ghana
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @#aflia
Project Leader:
Helena Asamoah-Hassan
Accra, Ghana
$20,777 raised of $50,000 goal
247 donations
$29,223 to go
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