Books for schools
Books can change peoples’ lives – sometimes through the ideas they contain; sometimes by contributing to children’s education in primary and secondary schools.
The world is gearing up for Universal primary Education by 2015, which is one of the 8 Millennium Development Goals: www.un.org/millenniumgoals. And countries are developing their own plans to achieve these.
The Tanzanian Secondary Education Development Plan aims to increase the number of students attending secondary school. However, the Tanzanian Government does not have the provisions to satisfy the demand for textbooks. It is estimated that without additional investment, by 2010 the ratio of textbooks to children will fall from 1:5 to 1:15. And even 1.5 is far too few!
Many developed countries have a huge surplus of no-longer-used textbooks, reference books and sports equipment which can remain locked up in school storerooms and cupboards for years, unused… before being sent for recycling.
Some university students in England are trying to collect school books and distribute them in Tanzania. The Tanzania Book Project was started by Robert Wilson and a group of his student friends at Nottingham University in 2003. Within 18 months, they had collected 40,000 textbooks from local schools and raised £8000 to fund the project. In 2005, their first container arrived in Tanzania containing 25,000 good quality text books, 20 computers and various items of sports equipment. These were distributed to 20 secondary schools in the Singida region of Tanzania.
In August 2007, the Tanzania Book Project will distribute approximately 125,000 secondary school textbooks across five regions of Tanzania. Book Projects have now been established in five universities in England: Liverpool John Moores, Nottingham, Bedfordshire, Warwick and Southampton. Student volunteers will collect up to 40,000 textbooks from their local secondary schools, sort through the books, match them to the syllabus and send at least 25,000 books each to a region of Tanzania.
Robert and his friends have set up a charity called READ International to coordinate and expand this work. It is hoped to expand to 12 Book Projects in 2007-08, and then to 20 Book Projects in 2008/2009.
If you are a student at a university you may be interested in starting a Tanzania Book Project of your own. This really is a very simple process. READ International will provide you with a CD starter pack. All it requires are three students to act as Project Leaders and twenty as Student Volunteers. There will then be an opportunity for up to 8 of these students to go out to Tanzania in the summer to deliver the 20,000 textbooks that they have collected.
If you are a publisher or a teacher and can help with books, do get in touch.
If you have a few pounds to give away or are thinking of organizing a fundraising event, why not do it for READ. You will not only be bringing much-needed books to schools and communities in Tanzania, but you will also be assisting a group of young people to address a key development issue in a really imaginative way.
For more information, contact: www.readinternational.org.uk
Read READ’s newsletters at www.readinternational.org.uk/news.shtml