Libraries in a land with no books

Posted Sunday February 01, 2015 by Africa Educational Trust Read More »&source=" target="_blank">

Libraries in a land with no books

In 1991, when the civil war broke-out in Somalia, education services throughout Somalia, including the National Library of Somalia, collapsed. Almost all the books and other necessary educational materials were looted and burnt by armed groups.

Due to continued instability, most schools in South and Central Somalia are now run by small private-sector or charitable organisations. It has been a struggle to replace educational materials and it remains difficult to get textbooks and learning materials, especially those relating to local teaching curriculum. To help teachers and students overcome this challenge, AET, in partnership with BookAid International, has established a small study library complete with books and academic journals. Two years in, with the help of dedicated local teachers and eager regular users, we are happy to call this project a great success.

Teacher partnerships have been essential to ensuring that students can get the most out of the available resources. Mr. Ahmed, who teachers physics at secondary school level, is one such teacher. He is 52 years-old and graduated from the Somalia National University Faculty of Education Department of Math and Physics back in 1984. He remembers the great collections of books that used to be available at the Somalia National Library and public school libraries. He, himself, use to have an impressive collection of books and resources, but all were lost to looting and burning.students

Mr. Ahmed experience as a teacher and library user is unusual. Many of his fellow teachers, especially the younger ones have no memory of the former Somalia National Library or the now lost public school libraries and never had the benefit of libraries themselves. As a results most teachers don’t understand how the library can be used to supplement lessons. Mr. Ahmed has helped overcome this challenge and dedicated many hours to matching lessons and curriculum to books and journals so that both teachers and students can use the library effectively.

Its students like Hassan, who have benefited from Mr. Ahmed’s work in organising materials. Hassan is 18 years old and attending school in Mogadishu while staying with relatives. Throughout Hassan’s education books have been a rare resource. Neither his rural primary school nor his current school in the capital had books for study. In fact, until the creation of the AET library, Hassan had never seen a library in his life though his teachers often talked of the importance of libraries and independent reading to education. Now Hassan is one of the regular users of the library. He is most often found studying the science books and journals. He says he used to struggle to understand the scientific terms used in his classes, but now, with Mr. Ahmed’s help, he can read-up on topics he was struggling with.

Learning how to find information for yourself and to teach yourself is a powerful skill. When you can teach yourself something, you can open up new worlds of possiblity. We wish all the teachers and students of our library the best as they continue to explore

Find out more about AET’s work with libraries and learning resources
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