East African Book Development Association

Enhancing Literacy for Poverty Eradication

Reading Tents

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Children's Reading Tent Project

Introduction

In East Africa, education standards are on the decline and one of the major reasons is that children do not master reading and are therefore weak in comprehending other curriculum subjects. The low and poor reading habits are mostly prevalent in rural and urban-slum schools. In these schools, there are no libraries and children have absolutely no access to leisure reading that could improve their skills.

The Children’s Reading Tent Project was initiated in 1997 in all the three countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania with aim of proving a forum where children can freely interact with books and participate in reading and writing activities. The Project is aimed at encouraging a love for reading among children by adopting leisurely approaches such as storytelling, music and dance, reading and writing competitions, etc.

Major objectives

The CRT Project has three major objectives explained in the following activity profiles:

To promote a reading habit among children:

Children of primary school age (both in and out of school) are invited to an open tent with a wide range of books on display. They are allowed to select any books of their choice to read, either loudly or silently. With the assistance of the co-ordinators (mostly teachers and librarians), the children are then led through a series of activities including being guided to narrate a summary of the stories that they have read, spelling competitions, listening to professional storytellers, question and answer sessions with authors of children’s books, etc. Each CRT last a whole day (8-10 hours) or in some cases 2 days.

At the end of each CRT, teachers should be able to assess several things I.e. take note of popular books for stocking in their schools libraries, understand the difficulties children have with reading, amiliarise themselves with the concept of CRT as a modern library and aim to replicate it in their various schools, etc.

Facilitating the establishment of school libraries

Organisers of each CRT are given funding to purchase books (readers). These books are donated to the schools that participate in the reading tent with the understanding that they will use the ‘book box’ to organise reading tents in their schools on rotational basis. Additionally, all participating schools receive a token of books each as a start-up collection for school libraries.

Training teachers in library set-up and management

Two weeks before the hosting of the reading tent, teachers from the invited schools are assembled at a ‘training and mobilization seminar’. Professional librarians train them on how to organize reading tents as well as how to manage a classroom library. The seminar takes a full day and attendance ranges between 20-28 teachers, two from every school that shall participate in the CRT.

Availing crucial information to Communities

Organizers of CRTs

In each of the three countries, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, organisers include library associations, reading associations and library boards. The Children’s Book Project in Tanzania as well as Kenya’s Egerton and Moi universities and a women’s group have joined the group of stakeholders. Averagely, there are four organisers of CRTs in each country.

Community CRT committees are established and given books to establish community libraries. The nation library services are then requested to follow up to ensure the community libraries are well established and functional.

Other CRTs are organized for communities. In these, books on income generating activities, health, environmental management, democracy, etc are distributed to participants.

 
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01 May, 2011
EABDA launched three new programmes in April 2011.
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