Pioneer Book Box Scheme
Once again Book Aid International is including Edward Ndlovu Memorial Trust in one of their programmes in Zimbabwe. This programme is intended to assist very disadvantaged schools with library books. We consider almost all of the schools we work with in Gwanda District disadvantaged, but this programme will allow us to work with ten schools we have not worked with previously. These will be primarily in the south-west part of Gwanda, across the Tuli River, where the first language in most communities is Sesotho.
Our Book Box Scheme has been a model for Zimbabwean rural library services
Book Aid International (BAI) will provide a box for each of ten schools, each containing 600 books. The box will become part of the school’s permanent collection, and will not rotate. ENMT will be responsible for distributing these boxes, working with school librarians to maximise their use, and monitoring the impact, and BAI has provided a small grant to enable us to do this. We are very happy to be able to participate in this programme, as it means that we will be reaching several communities which have been begging us to serve them, and yet we have not had the means. We hope that we will be able to continue to provide them with more books each year. For most of these schools this will be the first time they have had a library. We are grateful to BAI for this initiative.
This year the teaching of Sesotho has become the medium of instruction for grades 1 to 4 and an examinable subject at grade 7 in those schools where it is the first language of the majority of pupils. This represents a large portion of the communities in Gwanda South, including those schools which will participate in the Pioneer Book Box Scheme. It thus becomes imperative for us to provide more reading materials in Sesotho for the children in those schools. However, there are none published in Zimbabwe. A few years ago we did sponsor the publication of five small story books for grades 1 to 3 readers, but they are completely inadequate.
A loyal and generous supporter in Sweden has provided us with funds to make translations from books published in Sesotho in South Africa, and the publisher has given us the rights to do so. We are now working with teachers from the communities affected to produce translations which will reflect the specific Sesotho usage in Gwanda.
Although the language may have the same name there are significant variations in the Zimbabwean form of the language which would make it difficult for children to learn and develop reading skills unless they can read the dialect that they speak. The grant will pay for the printing of sufficient books to provide 600 to each of the schools that we work with; these will cater for children from Grade 1 to 7 and will not rotate, rather becoming part of the schools’ permanent collections.
We are grateful to Kersti Palmberg for this donation and believe it will assist the children’s learning and ultimately enable them to make much better progress with their education. Up to now they have been learning in SiNdebele and English, their second and third languages.