Mozambique

Cahora & Tete

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Let’s get involved with books

Let’s get involved with books

Let’s get involved with books
TASH MORGAN

“Urging young people to read more when there is little available to read makes as much sense as urging starving people to eat, when no food is available.” –  Stephen Krashen.

I recently did some research in Tete, Mozambique, to see if people have adequate access to printed material. Books are available, but very few people ever enter the shops to buy books. Many are economically challenged, about half live below the poverty line. Most think books are either textbooks for school, or bibles for church.

People get information from other sources, especially radio and TV. The majority don’t have time to read, most do not even read a newspaper. Why are books important? Research has shown that more reading means better reading, spelling, writing, grammar and vocabulary. What business doesn’t want employees who can represent the company through well-written communication?

Can we make a difference in the communities where we are living and working? What if we got a load of books that are comprehensible and interesting and gave one to each child in the third grade to take home? Each home that has a third-grader would have a chance to see that reading is for everyone, not an activity for the elite. If that encouraged even ten percent of families to make education a priority, I think it would be worth it!

An alternative is local libraries. There is a provincial library housed in the Direcao Provincial de Juventude e Desporte that will be moved to new premises at Escola Industrial in Matema. The current holdings include about 2000 titles, but don’t envision comfy chairs and shelves of interesting books. You will find all the parliamentary proceedings and newspapers archived for the past 20 years, but almost no literature. There isn’t even a Portuguese-English dictionary, or an encyclopedia; only textbooks and a few novels from colonial times. The library serves as a study center for secondary students, and researchers of local history.

As for schools, according to government policy, secondary schools should have libraries. Sometimes a room isn’t available to serve as a library, or the books have been moved, or there is no librarian. Tete Secondary School does have a room that houses textbooks, and some reference materials that are used by students who can’t afford to buy textbooks. It is full of students every day.
Classroom libraries can easily be set up in public schools. A bookshelf, or box, can be set up in a classroom for students to choose books to read during free time. Colegio Mundial is a private school in Tete that implemented this system with great success. The scheme could easily be expanded to public primary schools.

Do the math: each classroom has 50+ children. If there are three Grade 1 classes, you need three boxes of 50 titles. Each child can read a different book each day through term. The boxes get swapped each trimester. By the end of the year, the children would have had access to about 150 different books in school alone. If you, or your company, would like to get involved in providing reading material for the library or schools is Tete, contact Jeni via email on jeni_bister@sil.org, or telephone +258 82 305 1618.