From Book Storage to Reading Centres

Book Distribution and Library Training in Gondar

Access to reading materials is very important to the lives of the young people we work with. Across the country, many children do not have books at home. Those that do have access to books learn to read earlier, have a better chance of staying in school and greater opportunities as adults.

As well as building skills for the future, access to a library enhances children’s wellbeing while they are at school: giving them the joy of reading fiction and finding out new information about the world around them.

As part of our aim to improve literacy, we distributed books and held library training this March for eight schools in Gondar. The project involved the distribution of 815 academic books and 1,200 children’s reading books, as well as training for 32 school staff on how the books could best be used to support pupils’ learning and reading for pleasure.

The project was delivered thanks to support from Corvallis Sister Cities Association, as part of their Books for Gondar appeal. Their funding provided academic books to support curriculum teaching and 1,200 books from the Ready Set Go series by Open Hearts Big Dreams. The charity publishes these accesible bilingual books locally in Addis Ababa, which helps to create local capacity and encourages more investment in local publishing.

The training session took place at Hibret School’s new library, which Together We Learn built in 2020 with funding from Open Hearts Big Dreams. There were 32 trainees from eight schools at the training including 16 teachers, eight school directors, seven librarians, and a delegate from the local education office.

Over the day, we delivered training on how to maintain attractive library and reading spaces and how to encourage pupils to read and engage with books, as well as specific training from Open Hearts Big Dreams about how the Ready Set Go books can be used with pupils.

Following the training, there was an open discusion among the trainees to find out what kind of challenges school libraries face, as well as schools with smaller reading spaces hoping to encourage children’s literacy. It was an opportunity to learn more about the opportunities for reading within schools and to share experiences of how to make libraries work for students.

The provision of the books to the schools further boosted their motivation to apply these ideas on how to support pupils’ reading, providing the practical resources to go with the training. Our thanks go to Corvallis Sister Cities Association for making this holistic approach to improving literacy possible.

We will be visiting each of the schools involved over the coming weeks to see how the training has been implemented and further support the development of the libraries as spaces for reading.

Elsa, Country Director

Together We Learn - Ethiopia