A Tale of Two Libraries
Although Ghana has one of the highest school enrollment rates in West Africa, with 84.3% of school-aged children attending school, there are still about half a million children who are not in school, and for children who are in school, lack of resources (including books) is an impediment to learning. In 2011, the African Library Project developed a partnership with the Michael Lapsley Foundation (MLF) to found libraries in rural Ghana. Ernest Ankomah, Executive Director of MLF, recently reported on the changes that two libraries have brought to their communities. Their stories show why ALP is seeking Book Drive Organizers to create more Ghanaian libraries.
Before September 2017, the town of Siakrom, Ghana, in the Eastern region of Ghana, did not have a library. Ernest says, “There was nothing like a library in the entire community since the town was established.”
When the Siakrom Community Library opened, the entire community—children, teachers and parents—was happy. “Children are happy to learn. Teachers are excited that the books and the library makes their teaching easier. The entire community too is happy because children have a place to go instead of loitering around doing nothing.”
The library is actually located in Siakrom D/A Primary School. It is open one hour every Friday as well as after school hours during the week. Books are loaned to frequent library users. Because the library is in the school, it has improved the school’s enrollment level and has increased reading.
Ernest has observed that there is a unique working relationship between the teacher-librarian, Solomon Gyimah, and students and the community at large. “The library is a welcoming place.”
Hundreds of kilometers away, in Ando, Tisiyinu, Ghana, Ernest describes the situation there before the library was started as “hopeless. Children did not know anything about reading books apart from the teacher’s textbooks.”
With the help of ALP and Adanu, a local community-based organization in the Volta region that constructed and furnished the library, the Ando Tisiyuni D/A Basic Library opened in October 2017.
“Children are happy, seeing books they have not seen before. Teachers are exceedingly excited because the only books in the school were the few standardized textbooks provided by the Ghana Education Service.”
The library is in use both during class hours and after school. The Library Committee has initiated an after-school reading program so that students can come back and read. Ernest says, “The teacher-librarian, Anani Michael, is motivated to help students.”
Already, the library is paying dividends. “Reading levels have improved. Students are using their spare time judiciously. The community is encouraging their children to use the library facility. And the school and the community are expecting higher improvement in the coming years.”
In just a few months, these two libraries have made a difference in the lives of children and communities in Ghana. We’re getting ready to send another container of libraries to Ghana, and we need more volunteers to do a book drive for Ghana by April 20. Sign up for a book drive now and help make a difference for more children, so you can make a difference in children’s lives.