Library and Literacy

BRIEF SUMMARY

Key Benefits

What We Have Achieved

How We Work

The Project’s Future

What It Costs
By donating to this project, you will be helping us to support this important resource for the local communities. A donation of £15 ($20) runs these facilities for a day ensuring they are available to both adults and chilren in our community.


FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROJECT
Why Is It So Important?

Mwaya Community Library

RIPPLE Africa has constructed and maintains the Mwaya Community Library – a community library which was opened in 2005 and contains a wide variety of books for adults and children which has proved to be a very popular facility. In Malawi, very few people have access to any books at all, yet the link between books and literacy is self-explanatory. In addition to the obvious educational benefits, access to books is critical to developing a greater understanding of the world.

Books provide entertainment, knowledge, reference, advice, and exposure to outside cultures, practices, and views. A library not only helps to encourage the habit of reading, but inspires a thirst for knowledge which generates understanding and openness to new ideas.

RIPPLE Africa love seeing people’s wonder when they first visit the library, and the response from young children captivated by the musical books and colourful collections of children’s fiction. However, it is seeing library members reading Shakespeare, and community members viewing picture books of what animals look like in different countries for the very first time, that touches our hearts. The Community Library is important not only because it appeals to education as one of RIPPLE Africa’s three pillars of activity, but for the varied and complex ways it is enjoyed by so many people in the community. As most of the residents in our area live on under a $1 a day, this free resource is vital.

  • RIPPLE Africa volunteers help local primary school pupils with their reading at the library
    RIPPLE Africa volunteers help local primary school pupils with their reading at the library
  • The local Community Library at Mwaya
    The local Community Library at Mwaya
  • Chief Chibunya borrows a new book from the library every week
    Chief Chibunya borrows a new book from the library every week

Adult Literacy and Children’s Corner

RIPPLE Africa supports adult literacy in Malawi through the running of four adult literacy classes at Mwaya Community Library. The sessions are open to those living in Mwaya, Mazembe, Katenthere and other surrounding villages. The Children’s Corner session on a Saturday is also open to children in these areas.

RIPPLE Africa’s Adult Literacy and Children’s Corner projects include:

All the students who attend the classes are members of the library and are able to borrow books to use each week to support their learning.

  • Adults learning how to write letters Adults learning how to write letters
  • Keeping up to date with the national news
    Keeping up to date with the national news
  • Children attending one of the Children's Corner sessions
    Children attending one of Children’s Corner sessions

Illiteracy is a problem throughout Africa, and Malawi is no exception where a lack of access to quality education, high student to teacher ratios, high primary school drop-out rates, and low secondary school enrolment all contribute to generally low literacy rates which mean many people struggle with basic day to day tasks.

According to UNESCO Institute for Statistics (March 2016), 65.75% of the adult population (aged 15 years and above) in Malawi are able to read and write. For adult men, the literacy rate is 73% and for women it is 59%.

Literacy is generally worse amongst older adults than amongst younger people. The youth literacy rate (literacy amongst people age 15-24) in Malawi is 75%. While primary education has been free in Malawi since 1994, many adults who were school age before this period may never have attended primary school at all, and those who did attend may only have attended intermittently as and when their families could afford to pay the necessary school fees.

Literacy is critically important because being able to read and write makes a huge difference to doing many simple day to day activities. This is reflected in some of the reasons community members have given for joining the classes, including wanting:

  • Alamson, who is in charge of the Mazembe Adult Literacy class
    Alamson, who is in charge of the Mazembe Adult Literacy class
  • The Mwaya Adult Literacy class in the reading shelter at the Community Library The Mwaya Adult Literacy class in the reading shelter at the Community Library

What We Have Achieved

How We Work

RIPPLE Africa pays the running costs of the library to provide the facility for the local community which includes the salaries of one librarian and two library assistants, together with other ancillary items such as subscriptions to the national newspapers.

RIPPLE Africa pays for the teachers to run the four adult literacy classes held each week and for Children’s Corner held on a Saturday.

The Project’s Future

RIPPLE Africa’s community library is very well stocked with books. However, it would still benefit from locally purchased books written in the languages of ChiChewa and ChiTonga. The library has quickly become an important free community resource and requires continuing funding.

RIPPLE Africa will continue to offer Adult Literacy and Children’s Corner to the community.

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