At the end of February 2011 we paid a visit to three schools, Pale, Potoa and Kilindi in Zanzibar’s North A District. We wanted to see how they were getting on with their book box project!
The book box project works with 10 of the most deprived schools on the island to help improve pupils’ literacy and opportunities in life. In these schools children often sit on the floor, without chairs or desks to rest on. Because wages are so low and things are tough, teachers often just don’t turn up to work. And, before the book box project, there were precious few books to support the children’s education.
Now though, thanks to funding from the Blue Door Foundation, those 10 schools have accessible, compact and portable libraries with a collection of high-quality books in English sent from our warehouse in London, and books in the Kiswahili language as bought from African publishers locally. And as you can see, it seems to be making a massive difference.
While we were there, Sichana, director Zanzibar Library Service who has been managing the project, told us: “The project is very good. It is very helpful for our children because here in Zanzibar we have a problem. The reading culture is a problem for us… Many children only visit the library once they reach O’levels for the first time. In primary school children don’t even know what the word library means. So I think this book box library can reduce the gap.”
In fact, the project has been so successful, that we’re now planning to extend the scheme to another 10 schools in the North A District. Great news!