Creating the Next Generation of Readers

Thursday, 21 February 2019

The RIPPLE Africa Community Library at Mwaya continues to provide local people with a brilliant selection of books including novels, local language books and textbooks.

Head librarian Burton and his assistants John and Vitu had a busy 2018. 3,088 borrowers visited the library and they lent out 4,537 books, 592 books more than in 2017. They welcomed 157 new members too.

  • Vitu, Barton and John at the libraryVitu, Burton and John at the library
  • Barton and Alamson planning Adult Literacy classesBurton and Alamson planning Adult Literacy classes

In 2017, data showed that the majority of the children’s books were never read or borrowed so a Children’s Corner was started to help engender a love of books among young children. The reading sessions take place every Saturday and those attending regularly are now able to choose the books they wish to read and there are teachers who can help them read them. There is still scope for this reading club to expand and welcome more children but there is hope that now that Mwaya Primary School visit the library 10 times a week for their Library Lesson that the children will develop a love for books and feel more comfortable coming to read at the weekend.

Library members reacted positively to a selection of new local language books and new novels. However there is now a demand for new textbooks as the government has changed the secondary school syllabus so all of the subject textbooks need renewing. Newspapers continue to be popular as are magazines such as The Week, and there are more members preferring to read at the library instead of taking books home. There are still more men reading the papers as they love to be up to date with football and general sports news, as well as looking at the jobs section.

  • Children’s Corner members reading their booksChildren’s Corner members reading their books
  • Both stories involve African animalsBoth stories involve African animals

Kapanda Community Day Secondary School has a Peace Corps volunteer, Birgit McMullen, who has introduced school excursions to the library to ensure that all students, not just those living close to the library, are aware of the resource available to them. In 2018 they borrowed a combined 3,050 textbooks plus around 300 other books such as dictionaries and local language books.

Birgit said “During the 2017/18 school year we have taken several excursions to the Mwaya community library. Kapanda CDSS does not have an on-campus library and it is difficult for students to find books to read. As a Peace Corps Volunteer teaching English, part of my role is to introduce students to the concept of libraries and their use. During DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) Day I invited Burton, the chief librarian, to Kapanda to give a presentation on the creation of the library, the structure, its many uses, and policies. After that we organised two field trips to the library where students were able to tour the different sections, learn about different genres of books, and sign up as members. Students then checked out books we used in class to learn about how to write summaries and book reports. Students have since continued to use the library to read and study.

“The Mwaya community library is a wonderful and rare addition to rural life in Malawi. The introduction of library use to Secondary students has been a great example of what can happen when organizations and volunteers collaborate to benefit the local population.”

The students come to the library as they are unable to afford their own textbooks and the government do not provide enough so the students cannot borrow them from school. There are 11 different subject textbooks needed for each of the four year groups plus eight titles for English Literature and Chichewa Literature. We’d like to be able to provide four copies of each book to the library to ensure the students can continue studying with the correct materials. On average each book costs £8. To donate visit here

The RIPPLE Africa team would like to thank everyone supporting the library. You are helping to ensure it remains a great resource for the community.

  • Member Dorica choosing a book to readMember Dorica choosing a book to read
  • Children’s Corner taking place with Honess and RebeccaChildren’s Corner taking place with Honess and Rebecca

Watch our short film about Mwaya Community Library and how the local community are also benefitting from Adult Literacy and Children’s Corner.

You can read the full report which illustrates the books borrowed and the library users for 2017 and 2018.