Edward Ndlovu Community Libraries
Our Library Services Promotes Literacy, Supports Education and Develops Skills in Zimbabwe
Library Services in Gwanda
Serving adults, students and children
We have built a large library with two wings and offices. One wing caters for adults and students, including secondary school pupils; it offers books of all categories as well as newspapers. The second wing is dedicated to children of pre-school and primary school ages. Besides reading and borrowing books the children come for storytelling and other activities such as crafts, writing, and drama related to the stories. In both wings, anyone is welcome to come in and read; those who pay a small subscription may borrow as well. Read More
Rural Outreach Programme
Books are provided for 75 schools, with 25,000 books reaching 29,000 children
The town library serves as a base for the rural outreach to Gwanda District, providing book boxes to 75 rural schools. We reach approximately two thirds of the children aged 5 to 12 in the district. The books include supplementary reading material in English, both fiction and non-fiction, most being donated by Book Aid International, a charity based in the UK. We also buy books published locally, especially those in local languages spoken in the district, SiNdebele and SeSotho. There are three different programmes
Supporting adults’ learning and income generating projects
We want the library also to help adults in the depressed rural communities to generate income. We employ two field officers who assist villagers to form groups which identify viable projects and then use books in the boxes at their school to learn the necessary specialised skills and the management of a micro-business. The field officers initiate discussion on topical issues, and organise workshops to help them succeed. We now have study circles engaged in market gardening, goat rearing, chickens, fish farming and crafts. The aim is to help them move from a subsistence economy to small-scale commercial production.. Read More
Workshops & Training
For teachers of reading, teacher-librarians and community leaders and study circle members.
Training is primarily done through small workshops. These are held with teachers, heads of schools and community leaders to help them to understand the importance of a library and how it can be used to assist with children’s learning. We train a teacher-librarian in each school to manage the books and borrowing, and we have also held special workshops on the teaching of reading and on the use of e-readers. Workshops are also frequently held for the members of the study circles, especially on planning their projects. Read More
A Canadian Charity, Working in Zimbabwe
Edward Ndlovu Community Libraries raises money in Canada and the United States to support library services in Gwanda district in Matabeleland South province in Zimbabwe. Funds are transferred to our partner, Edward Ndlovu Memorial Trust (ENMT) in Zimbabwe. The ENMT carries out the projects on our behalf. ENCL monitors the projects and receives regular reports from ENMT. Funds raised from private donations have ranged from CAD$20,000-$40,000 each year over the past ten years. They represent approximately 20% of the budget of our partner.
ENCL was registered in 2015 as a not-for-profit corporation and gained charitable status from the Canada Revenue Agency. It evolved from an informal voluntary network known as the Friends of Edward Ndlovu Memorial Library (FENML) which over a period of ten years raised funds in support of the Gwanda library services. As a Canadian registered charity, ENCL provides financial and activity reports on an annual basis to the Canada Revenue Agency.
Communities which have never before had access to books other than textbooks are experiencing a cultural and educational revolution as a reading generation develops. This now extends beyond the school to the adult population as the demand for our services far outstrips our capacity to provide.
Library in Gwanda Town - Adults
Adults and students at secondary and tertiary level are able to access materials they cannot obtain anywhere else. Textbooks which are lacking in most institutions’ libraries are freely available for study in the library, or borrowing. This has enabled thousands to succeed where they would have failed, and has made the whole community aware of the importance of supporting a library. Civil servants have been able to proceed with further studies which would not be possible in most towns in Zimbabwe. Quality of life is enhanced for all who frequent our services. Read More
Library in Gwanda Town - Children
Thousands of children over the years have made the library a second home, and have benefitted by extending their knowledge and their literacy skills and developing a joy of reading. All the schools in the town and nearby have encouraged their children to join and some facilitate their visits by providing transport. Craft, writing, and drama offered to the children have provided some beneficial after-school activities in an environment where there is little entertainment or organized extra-curricular programmes. Read More
Improved Literacy in Rural Areas
Most children in rural schools never encountered books other than school textbooks, which have also been in short supply. With the book boxes now accessible, they are given a window on whole new worlds of knowledge, and the opportunity to go far beyond the textbook. While the literacy levels used to deteriorate after the children left school, now they have reached a standard where they can retain literacy and the book box enables them to continue to read as community members. Read More
New Libraries Built in Rural Areas
After receiving our book boxes for several years, three of the communities we serve have extended themselves and raised the funds to build their own libraries, two of which are already operating. They now understand that they can both learn and entertain themselves with books, and their libraries are popular with both adults and children. Read More
Creation of a Model for Rural Library Services
We believe we have created a viable model for bringing library services to rural areas in any developing country. The combination of rotating book boxes with training and education has worked in the Gwanda district, and could easily be replicated elsewhere. What remains is the research to demonstrate the full impact on the communities. We invite anyone interested in embarking on such research to contact us.
Income Generation for Rural Adults
Adult study circles that have been developed using materials borrowed from the book boxes have enabled community members to begin moving away from unreliable subsistence production to generating income through sales. The groups raise goats and chickens, grow vegetables or make craft items which provide the funds for school fees and uniforms, and many consumer goods. This has been beneficial especially to the women who gain some economic independence from the male family members. Read More