Community Library Madagascar

  • Education
  • Community Growth
  • Youth
  • Madagascar
This project is led by Abigail Schrantz, a Volunteer from Illinois

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In my community, there’s a major desire to improve literacy among students and adults. Almost daily, individuals express their interest in learning English. However, at the high school I teach at, they only have about 50 books in French and a handful in Malagasy. After discussing this lack of resources with coworkers and community members, we decided a project to prioritize would be building a library. Our goal is to supply it with mainly English books, along with Malagasy. The library will be accessible for the entire town, yet we will especially encourage the teachers within our 14 schools to use it. With this, an objective of ours is to hold trainings about how to incorporate literacy in the classroom for teachers once we have books. Our goal is to demonstrate the power of reading comprehension, and how literature can improve English skills. Then, my fellow coworkers and teachers of other schools will encourage students to purchase library cards so they can use the resources. In addition to these goals, my community expressed the need for a safe area for students to focus on their studies. They believe that the library could be an environment where they are motivated to improve, instead of being surrounded by distractions. With this, my counterparts at the high school want to tutor students using the books to provide extra help. Overall, if the library can supply books for individuals to improve their literacy, it will heighten motivation to read more and further their education.

Ever since I attended In-Service Training with my counterpart, we have been discussing how a library could be a tremendous asset to the local community. We had frequent conversations about the best way to approach this, and then we brought the conversation to my principal. She immediately agreed with our opinion that a library should be prioritized. We then began collaborating on the most effective way to implement this project. When we brought the idea to the Mayor, he expressed his opinion that the library should be accessible and utilized by everyone in town, thus needing enough space for individuals to browse and read materials within the building. He then helped plan a meeting with members of the community, such as teachers, CISCO (school district administrators) and the FRAM (parent's association). At this meeting, the community expressed great interest in having access to English and Malagasy books. Several parents and teachers spoke about how they are concerned about their students’ exam scores and believe the library could help improve them. The Mayor and ChefZap pledged during this meeting to coordinate the 25% community contribution and make sure the funds are allocated towards this project. In addition to the support within my school, after holding this meeting I witnessed their dedication to the project. Since all the teachers will have access to literary materials and trainings about incorporating reading into the classroom, they have committed to helping us work on construction, upkeep of the library, and other work that will need to be done. I had teachers from the primary and middle schools ask questions about the trainings, showing their interest in attending. They advocated the need for using books in their classrooms and were excited by the prospect of it. Within this past year, the English teachers at the middle school approached me asking if I had English books they could borrow in their classroom, which showed me their initial interest in promoting literacy. Along with this, I learned from conversations with my principal that she has noticed within parents here a remarkable interest in their children’s education. She has witnessed how many closely monitor their children’s learning, and due to this, I think the parents will encourage use of the library. I also noticed this dedication during the community meeting when many parents voiced their concern about their students’ grades. If they see the power that could come from resources in the library and its ability to improve their children’s education, they would want them to utilize it. Ever since my counterpart and principal first told me that they believe a library is a true need, I have had numerous people approach me and ask questions about how they can help with the project or when the resources can be utilized. Within our project framework, there is a group of individuals composed of teachers, CISCO and FRAM members who have committed to helping with the upkeep and maintenance of the library. Having the commitment from my community has made it evident that they take this project very seriously and the library will be used for many years to come.

The first major way this project will be sustainable is through the training sessions about reading in the classrooms. If teachers attend a few of these while I am serving as a volunteer here, they can use the information long term within their teaching career. Since my counterpart will be leading these sessions with me, she will continue to provide trainings on promoting literacy in the classroom after my service is finished. Also, many teachers at the high school want to tutor students, so these sessions can continue long-term. Within these sessions, students will learn studying habits and test-taking strategies which they can utilize for the rest of their educational career, while getting used to the library being an environment to study in. Another way this project will be sustainable is through the fee of a library card for each person. These funds can then go toward any upkeep the library needs or even purchasing new books and supplies. Individuals who hold a library card will pay yearly for this but can continue to reap the benefits long term by checking out books for as long as they desire to. In addition to this, the project will be sustainable through the group of individuals who will hold the responsibility of being librarian. We composed this group during the community meeting, and it consists of teachers, and a member from FRAM and one from CISCO. They will learn how to organize/shelve the books and maintain the business aspect of the library so they can keep this up for many years. Lastly, the knowledge people can obtain from the books in the library will be sustained for years and they can continue to use the resources as long as they would like to. This encourages sustainability because they will have access to new materials and those who want to learn English will be able to practice by using the books. Then, by becoming fluent or literate in English, they will have the potential to further their education or seek other job opportunities. One major trait I witness within everyone I meet in the local community is their tireless dedication to their jobs or responsibilities. I have full faith that their strong work ethic, combined with major interest in reading and learning English, will properly sustain the library for many years.

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