Secondary School Library Project

  • Education
  • Community Growth
  • Youth
  • Tanzania
This project is led by Edward Hendrickson

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In order to improve student learning outcomes, the Secondary School intends to make a library space. The students here lack essential learning materials. At present, students copy exercises and notes written by a teacher on the blackboard; this tedious, often painstaking transcription is the result of limited resources and constrained pedagogy. Technology is a part of a modern education, and students doing without are less competitive and less able to succeed in an increasingly technological world. This grant intends to open doors for teachers and students alike by providing ample access to books and computers. With approximately 500 new books, students will be able to study independently, at their own pace, with abundant supplemental exercises and explanation. The project committee, consisting of three subject teachers and the head of school, has agreed to facilitate teacher trainings on how to use the library most effectively, skilling teachers with Microsoft Office and literacy-oriented pedagogy. From these trainings, teachers will learn to assign readings, supplement coursework with research presentations, and use PowerPoint presentations in lieu of the time-consuming chalkboard method. The nine desktop computers will be refurbished Dells with antivirus and Microsoft Office installed at the time of purchase; the Epson projector will be purchased new. The library space will be locked when not in use and protected by burglar bars. The project will begin in December 2019, and by June 2020, the school expects to see improved scores on their government exams, in addition to increased student confidence and participation. While the primary beneficiaries are the school’s 393 students, teachers will also acquire valuable technological skills through this grant. To sustain the project after the implementation of the grant, the school has dedicated 10% of their maintenance budget to replacing books, repairing computers, and acquiring additional materials. The total cost is 17,836,500TSH, of which the school is contributing 4,666,500TSH (26.16%).

The proposed library has overwhelming support from both teachers and students. The PCV was solicited by the head of school, various teachers, and students for library resources. The community sees the acquisition of computers and books as invaluable in the pursuance of their education. In addition, community members have pointed to subsidiary benefits for youth, particularly in creating a safe space for study after hours, such as improved confidence and greater ownership over their decision-making. In a series of meetings, beginning in March 2019 through September 2019, the community laid out their needs and their contributions to the project. At one meeting, the project committee established the rules and organization of the library; it was agreed that a teacher would always occupy the room when students were present, maintaining a log of who came and left, as well as who checked out books. At another meeting the committee agreed that the school intends to contribute funds for the construction of new furniture (e.g. chairs, tables, shelves), room repairs and refurbishment, and electrical wiring. They will hire a skilled craftsman for this work. In total, they are contributing 4,666,500TSH worth of goods and labor. Moreover, the school is committing to recurring electricity costs, setting aside 300,000TSH per semester.

To ensure library security, the room will be locked unless the supervising teacher (appointed on a rotating weekly basis) is present. Moreover, the computers and books will be kept in a classroom with burglar bars and wire-mesh windows. The supervising teacher is responsible for two logs: a sign-in/sign-out log, to monitor students using the space, and a check-in/check-out log, which tracks books leaving the library. The students responsible for the loss shoulder the cost of damaged or missing books. To mitigate the burden placed on students by damage that will inevitably occur to checked-out books, students are permitted to take books from the library only in groups. Peers will keep track of the book and split costs if damaged or lost. The cost of computers, however, is considered the primary responsibility of the supervising teacher: for damage that violates established library rules (for example, a student spills a soda on the keyboard), the teacher is liable, having not properly enforced computer safety rules. The supervising teacher is required to report standard wear-and-tear, for which the school has agreed to allocate part of its maintenance budget (10%) to upkeep and repair, including routine maintenance and periodic costs (such as software or antivirus updates). To ensure the longevity of the computers, the project committee is buying refurbished computers with preloaded software; the computers will be kept offline to avoid attracting computer viruses. All teachers will be trained on the basics of computer hygiene, file management, and troubleshooting. Moreover, these trainings will encourage long-term use of the space by showing teachers the diversity of teaching techniques available to them with ample books and computers.

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