Primary School Library Project

  • Education
  • Community Growth
  • Youth
  • South Africa
This project is led by Ryan Atkins, a Volunteer from New York

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One of the learners in particular will read anything she can get her hands on. She continuously asks if she can take textbooks home so that she has something to read in her spare time. Although English is rarely used in our Zulu-speaking village, English proficiency is often essential for a child’s future employment. Yet although 704 children like her attend our school, the only books it owns are government-mandated textbooks. Given that only 19% of village residents completed secondary school, the school hopes to repurpose one of its smaller existing classrooms to function as a school library to address this issue. Learners will use the library during free periods to read and check out books, and library classes will teach students how to use the library effectively. To increase the literary capabilities and literary interest of the school’s 704 learners from kindergarten through seventh grade, the school’s library committee is asking for a contribution of $3,761 from donors. Due to the determined participation of the school’s teachers and parents, $1773, or 32% of the project’s budget, is coming directly from the community. These funds will be used to acquire a total of 1,500 books within South Africa. Another Peace Corps Volunteer is sourcing books from Books for Africa, and we will receive a portion of our books from there. The implementation period will hopefully begin in February of 2020.

The idea for the formation of a library came from the Student Governing Body, in conjunction with the principal. School leadership noticed strong interest among learners towards reading while recognizing that improved access to literary resources is necessary for academic success. It is therefore clear that both learners and teachers at the school are excited by the prospect of gaining access to a library. A counterpart and the principal have participated in several meetings with the volunteer to write this grant proposal. During these meetings, we developed our goals and designed our implementation plan. This included budgetary details, the assignment of roles and responsibilities, and the timeline that we will follow. A third grade English teacher has agreed to be co-librarian with the volunteer to ensure community involvement and sustainability. After the volunteer departs, she will act as librarian in conjunction with the library committee. As the library is being established throughout the end of January 2020, she will participate work in conjunction with the volunteer, during which skills and knowledge regarding the maintenance of the library will be transferred. A community member with family who attend the school has worked with the school in the past. He has volunteered his own time and labor to construct the library’s shelving units in early December of 2019. One of the grade 6 teachers, has agreed to pick up the Books for Africa shipment in Durban with his truck.

The co-librarians are in charge of writing a library policy document that will outline the maintenance, monitoring, and evaluation of the project. This document will assign clear roles to teachers and learners within the school, therefore promoting project sustainability. Although some responsibilities will be delegated, the co-librarians are ultimately responsible for the execution of the project. Since the co-librarians will work together on the implementation of the project, both individuals will gain skills and knowledge related to the maintenance of the library. This means that when the PCV finishes his service, the other librarian will have all the skills necessary to be an effective librarian. To prevent the misplacement of books, the co-librarians will require each book to be signed out. To prevent the degradation of books, each grade within the school and their instructors will attend a minimum of one library hour per term, which will be taught by the co-librarians These classes will instruct learners and educators how to care for the books, including how to turn pages with care, replace books on shelves, and how to hold books respectfully. The class will also transfer knowledge related to library use and navigation. Lastly, the classes will instruct learners on library rules and procedures, which will ultimately work to ensure the longevity and success of the project at large. Lastly, the co-librarians will manage a library club. This library club will be composed of learners who will be chosen through an application process in conjunction with teacher recommendations. These learners will execute the routine maintenance of the library. This will simultaneously increase learner investment and engagement with the library while providing leadership opportunities. If both learners and educators are directly involved with the maintenance and implementation of the project, it will solidify community ownership and investment in the project. It will also give the co-librarians some leeway to attend to their other responsibilities as teachers.

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