Monday, July 28, 2014

Shelving books for a local school

We donated library furnitures to GS Gasogi; a school educating most children sponsored by our  EDUBWIZA program.

When I asked the management of the school the concerns which needed help, a long list of them was presented to us. It was clear that the school can use more help. But at that moment, there was one project that captured our attention.

The schools' library project interested us the most. The librarian requested for a desk and shelves to keep her library neat.
Then, I took a glimpse of the library..

As I walked into the library, it was jam-packed with boxes of old and new books. There was literally no place to step along. For clarifications, by old books, I mean textbooks which were printed during the previous regime, a regime that favoured French as the main foreign and official language. While the subject matter in these previous textbooks to a certain extent continue to be relevant, new English textbooks have been published to replace the old ones.

The current Rwandan government is breaking new grounds in its education system. They are convinced, as we all do that education will help the government reach its short and long term development targets. The  Rwandan leadership dreams to become a middle income country by 2020. In this vision, English language is seen to be an important key to integrating with the rest of the world and as well in doing business. For those reasons, students countrywide are being initiated into English language courses, teachers and professors who did not have English background are busy at learning English language.

With the arrival of new books and little room-space GS Gasogi has, all the old and new books were piled up in a smallish library room. Frankly, it was a little messy place! The library room itself looked dim and smelled moldy and earthy. Its coarse internal wall plastering had prints of greasy hands. The library lacked organisation, it seemed like an abandoned little place that actually has a wealth of knowledge- books.

Scrutinizing further, I also discovered that the library was not only for books, but also a temporary storage of laboratory equipments.
This is how the library originally looked
There were two large padlocked blue metallic casings. From what I could learn on the nicely printed top labels, they contained materials for the school's science lab. These materials were centrally donated by the Belgian Technical Cooperation. My good guess is that BTC does not know that their donations are not being used, and that they are idle in the trunks picking up dust.

Our association facilitated the school to organise the school library. We purchased wooden shelves and donated them to schools' library. We had initially insisted that the shelves must be set up immediately. We did not want to donate shelves and just leave. We wanted to be sure that our donation will be put into use. And indeed they were put into use.

Although this project came on a short notice, the lady teacher overseeing the library assured me that she and some students will do cleaning up. She was full of excitement because her work place was soon to get a new face. If that will mean an extra motivation to her job, no one knows.
When we drove-in with a car loaded with shelves, teachers and students were busy at work, cleaning and cleaning. The room floor was clean, but was still wet, students were also helping with unpacking the idle books from the boxes on the ground to the shelves.
The team that helped in setting up the library.
Some students could get taken up with exploring the materials in these books. I don't blame them for that, for it was their first time and an opportunity to be in the library, and actually getting to touch and exploring the books. I overhead a few teachers surprised too with a variety of books the school actually has.

To some it looked like we brought the books as well, yet we assisted only in putting their books from boxes to shelves. In the process of unpacking them, the hidden sources of knowledge was being revealed.
This is how it looked after

Our support was not that big, but we believe it makes a difference. We helped the school turning the library into a functional unit. The books are well organized; it serves time and it will make it easy for everyone using it.

I believe there many small initiatives like this one, that are always overlooked, yet they are equally essential.

We keep a close follow up on how the library runs.


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