Getting children to love reading has become a global challenge. And in one of the smallest communities in The Gambia, they have united to help children grow a love for reading, exposing them to the become great minds.
In Kafuta, village 37 miles southeast of the capital, Banjul, the community united and transformed an abandoned community center into library and resource center for children.
Saul Njie, a Ph.D. candidate at Virginia Tech and professor at Bluefield State College, donated more than 700 books to what is now the Kafuta Community Library.
“The donated books range from textbooks for undergrad, high school, middle school to primary school students,” said Badara Sowe, a native of the village.
“The pilot project is, in part, geared towards creating book clubs in communities to promote a culture of reading, writing and public speaking.”
The Kafuta chapter is already registering success. An after-school program has been launched and all students in the program got admission into high schools.
Students from rural Gambia have slim chances of passing middle school exams due to lack of access to resource materials and poor quality of education being delivered. But with the library and the after-school programs, access to resources have boosted student confidence and contributed to their success.
In 2018, the project will establish two more community libraries in Serekunda and Bakoteh. As part of activities of the initiative, the project will organize inter-school debate and quiz competitions – spanning different topics especially civic education to build an empowered citizenry.
The project solicits books from individuals and institutions which, in turn, would foster a habit of reading, writing, and public speaking from the formative years of the young people and beyond.