It was with great excitement and expectation that Mkugiro Secondary, a remote coastal school about 65 kilometres from Dar es Salaam, opened its first fully equipped library in June this year. Prior to the building of the library, the few books available were stored in a dilapidated classroom that teachers also used as an office.

Songas, in partnership with READ International and local educational authorities, funded the library which, upon completion, is now more than able to facilitate the ongoing literacy development of Mkugiro Secondary’s 300-plus learners and their 20 teachers. Songas contributed TZS 17.9m (approximately 8000 US dollars).

The funds donated by SONGAS for this project were used to facilitate the physical library refurbishment. This included the painting of walls, floor repair, purchase of books, teacher training, volunteer training, the provision of furniture, materials for book referencing and monitoring the success of the project after six months.

Renovations: Before and After

Before opening the library to students, as an exercise in teaching the teachers, a three-day teachers’ professional training course was conducted by READ. Subjects covered included an introduction to textbooks use, new teaching methods and literacy skills. Teacher feedback highlighted that a shortage of books was a real challenge, especially in crowded classes. Teachers were therefore also taught how to distribute textbooks in classrooms and how to effectively manage and supervise large numbers of students.

As they had received no ongoing training since graduating from college, teachers were grateful for the chance to learn and take part in the identification and discussion of key points regarding their effectiveness in the education and upliftment of their students.

Subsequently, volunteers and teachers have established a literacy and reading club that maximises use of the library. The club comprises ongoing reading campaigns and competitions such as:

  • essay writing
  • dictation writing
  • academic debates

The ultimate purpose of the reading club is to improve the students’ comprehension and fluency during the transition to English from Swahili and from mother tongue to Swahili.

A large number of books, fiction, non-fiction and academic, were donated to the school. continuously being acquired. Teachers and students, supported by volunteers from the local university, have been shown how to sort and reference the books.

The exercise has been especially useful to the boys and girls attending Mkugiro Secondary. They familiarise themselves with the titles and writers as well as on rules regarding book lending and borrowing; skills that will open their minds to a world beyond theirs; skills that will remain with them for rest of their lives.

Students registering, referencing books and enjoying the new library