Everybody knows that reading is very important for a child to understand text, express himself or herself, build self-confidence, comprehend and narrate stories before congregations. Unfortunately in Kilifi County, most students especially those in upper grades of public primary schools and at the age of 9 to 14 years are not able to read fluently and understand a single paragraph in English or Kiswahili. The Tusome initiative promotes reading amongst school going children. Kesho has been implementing the project in ten public primary schools in Kilifi County. Our key objective of the project was to enhance reading for understanding among grade 1 to 3 pupils. With a vision of having communities where parents understand their roles in child literacy development and pupils master expected reading competencies for their grade levels in school we did not want to stop there. Why limit implementing the reading sessions to just ten schools yet there are more public schools in Kilifi County, which could benefit from the same?
The First Time Ever in the Library
So we were looking for an avenue to reach out to more children to profit by implementing the Tusome methods. The idea of community reading sessions was born so that children from Kilifi County can have the chance to read storybooks and enjoy reading them. By then, we had no idea the impact these community-reading sessions would have on the community at large. Those who were also on board were Kilifi National Library (KNLS), Rotary club of Kilifi and the NGO, Moving the Goalpost (MTG).
Our first Community Reading Day was held on Saturday, 10th March 2018. Only a few children and parents turned up. “We did not know that there is a library in Kilifi,” Said one community member who attended. For him it was the first time that he entered the library.
Spelling competitions, word puzzles, word building and story re-telling
The activities were geared towards enhancing key literacy skills. The children were reading aloud under supervision of volunteers, participated in spelling competitions, did word puzzles, and word building and practiced story re-telling. We also had an open forum where children engaged in play activities such as sac races, drama and dancing.
This event took place at the Kilifi library, which turned out to be the best choice. In talks with the children we found out that the facility was under utilized because most of them were not aware of procedures of accessing the services. We utilized the opportunity to inform the children that it is free for them to attend, study and read from the library and they only charge five shillings per borrowed book. Part of the resources to enrich children’s education journey are E-readers that contain thousands of stories We also informed children of community library at MTG and Kesho resource center. More services like sponsorship opportunities were also brought to the children’s attention
Library Visits Increased By 50 Percent
The success of this event made the library more attractive to children and prompted for expansion of sitting space and fencing of the grounds to make it more secure to children and community members visiting. The numbers of children accessing the facility over the weekends and school holidays increased by 50%.Children playing the word puzzle game
How huge the impact of the first community reading session became evident during the second event, which was held during World Literacy Day on Saturday, 8th September 2018. More partners offered to join. We expected 250 children to participate, instead over 500 attended. Children, who had attended the first event, liked the event so much that the word spread very well. “I told my friend ‘Let’s go!’”, said one of the students.
Influx of parents came in and they were interested to find out on the reading sessions, what the children are doing and to monitor their activities. Others came in to support and volunteer by supervising children reading out loud. The parents’ feedback on the event was very positive. “I like the methodology to access literature through stories, ” said one of the parents. “Reading stories is better for the children than sitting at home and watching cartoons and TV.”
Children loved Story Cards
Each child was gifted a supplementary reader from the County Government of Kilifi. They also got laminated story cards with an array of story titles to read and share with other children who did not attend the session. Thus Kesho and its partners ensured that also those children were informed about the library and other resource centers where they could visit and access reading and study materials. “The laminated story cards is a very affordable way of providing reading materials to a child and reaching more children who do not visit us” said one of the librarians. Indeed, The children were asking for more stories, as they really loved them.
The very positive experience and feedback we got on the two community reading sessions were overwhelming so that we plan to have an event every school term.
About Kesho Kenya
Kesho Kenya is a nonprofit organization whose core mandate is to enhance access to quality education among children and youth in the coast of Kenya. Part of our strategic areas is to offer literacy support to children with dire reading gaps that hinder them from thriving to full academic potential. It is on this basis that we applied for the Tusome Youth Groups Grant. For the last one-year, we have been implementing the project in 10 public primary schools in Kilifi County. Over the years we have been working closely with various institutions and organizations that support education within Kilifi.
Learn more on our website: https://www.keshokenya.org
Kesho Kenya and Tusome project
We are glad of the progress and impact of the Tusome project in schools and our community outreach program. It has helped us scale up literacy support activities without incurring further costs and also reaching out to children that are not direct beneficiaries of the Tusome project. Parents appreciate the time children spend at the library or MTG and the Kesho resource center as it comforts them to know that their children are safe and are engaging in meaningful activities with a positive impact to their education and life. We are looking forward to diversify our literacy support activities to reach out to Kilifi and beyond.
If you are interested in knowing more details about Kesho’s roles and tasks in the Tusome project, please don’t hesitate to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you a copy.