The Xavier Project mobile library visits primary schools each weekday morning. At each school we read with small groups of 5 students per tutor for 15 minutes.
With each group, depending on their ability, we do a range of activities, which include:
- the tutor will read the book, with students following the words with their index finger;
- the students will read the book together;
- the students will read individually;
- the tutor will ask questions about the story to check reading comprehension;
- the tutor will ask questions about the pictures on the page (perhaps how they relate to children’s experiences or how they relate to the text); and
- the tutor will cover the text and ask students to guess what is going to happen based on the pictures.
The schools we visit have large numbers of refugees and few resources.
On Mondays we visit PPDR Child Care Primary School.
On Tuesdays we visit Central Primary School and Katwe United Primary School.
On Wednesdays we visit Katwe Primary School.
On Thursdays we visit St Paul’s Primary School.
On Fridays we visit Old Kampala Primary School.
Map of Schools the mobile library visits
We currently have two staff members who visit schools for the mobile library, and each week we read with about 300 children.
We buy most of our books at Gustro in Kampala http://www.gustro.com. The books cost £1-2 each. Many of the books are published in East Africa and set in East African settings, which often makes it easier for the students to identify with. But the usual fairytale stories like Cinderella, and The Three Little Pigs, remain popular. So far the mobile library has been funded by individual donations and the Imani Children’s Trust.
Background to the Xavier Project Mobile Library
In Uganda the education system has been overstretched by the pursuit of fulfilling the Millennium Development Goal of ‘Universal Primary Education.’ Many children attend overcrowded schools with few resources, and are not getting a quality education. In overcrowded, under-resourced schools, reading is particularly difficult to teach. After surveying 27 districts in Uganda, Uwezo found that 98% of students in Primary 3 and 28% of students in Primary 7 cannot read texts of Primary 2 difficulty. http://www.uwezo.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/UG_2010_AnnualAssessmentReport1.pdf
In Uganda, it is UNHCR’s policy that refugees should integrate into the Ugandan school system. Those refugees that can afford to send their children to school usually send them to cheaper schools (often these are the government-aided schools) that are often the most overcrowded and have the fewest resources. During Xavier Project’s access to education research in 2012, we interviewed headteachers at government-aided primary schools in Kampala. Headteachers identified reading, as being particularly difficult to teach, which was partly due to having no or very few ‘readers’ (those little books you read when you first learn to read).
One way of addressing the problem could be to donate books to primary schools. But if we gave books to one school, only one school would benefit. Moreover, there is the risk that teachers would steal the books, and the school may lack the staff capacity to teach reading. So we decided that we would start a mobile library.
Plans for opening a physical library in 2014
Xavier Project plans to open a physical library which will be connected to the mobile library. For more on this idea see http://www.xavierproject.org/kampala-library-idea/