Teacher librarians MigoriHoma Bay training book donations

Teachers, librarians and other school representatives from both primary and secondary schools from Migori and Homa Bay provinces had a reason to smile over the past two days.

This is after Rongo University organized a special training for them within the university thanks to the African Library Project (ALP).

This year’s exercise started on May 30, with most of the day devoted to training.

During the day, attendees and all other book lovers were taken through a number of topics related to promoting the culture of reading among schoolchildren, setting up the library and managing it.

Professor Daniel Tarus, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration, Finance and Planning, sheds more light on why it is a necessity to have a reading culture.

The training took place at Rongo University

“Someone who really wants to gain knowledge must read from page one to the last page. People who study literature will tell you that you have to read an entire book, and by the time you reach the end, you ask yourself: What have I learned? And you should be able to tell that specific story from that book from beginning to end. That is reading.” He said.

Prof. Tarus, who was also present on behalf of the Vice President, Prof. Samuel Gudu, who would grace the occasion, while concluding his address, articulated how best to build a reading culture.

“The more we read, the more culture we build and the better informed we become.”

He also thanked the teacher librarians for sacrificing their precious time and attending the training.

He also thanked the organizers and stressed the importance of coming up with such programs.

Joel Nakitare, chief librarian of Rongo University, was not left behind. As one of the main speakers and organizers are addressed on the right ways to ensure the growth and sustainability of the libraries. He advised the teacher librarians to involve the PTA and other stakeholders in ensuring that the library grows and serves its proper purpose.

Training of teachers and librarians.

“The involvement of PTA and other stakeholders such as students, school board members and the community at large will really help in the growth of our libraries,” he said.

Nakitare also wished that the public would not be extremely money-oriented as it limits reading and literacy opportunities when money is prioritized and literacy promotion is neglected.

“There is still so much to learn. Look for those opportunities and don’t tie them to money. I’ve been around long enough to see that people who base everything on money lose a lot of opportunities as a result. Look for opportunities to know and understand how you can grow the library and make it a little more active and impactful. Participate in literary events and forums.”

He also addressed the issue of book maintenance, warning teachers against punishing students who return books in poor condition, as this would lead to many of them not reading them but simply keeping them.

“Every time I go to the library and find brand new books, I always get very worried. This is because these books are never given out for use. Even the clothes we wear are always torn, so what about book teachers when a book is torn and someone is pushed left, right and center? Let children have time with books. If we insist that the books should be clean as they are given out, it means they will not read them,” he said.

Progress during the training

Other speakers also encouraged teacher-librarians to be key leaders in creating and cultivating the culture of reading among schoolchildren.

On the second day, May 31, it was D-Day. Here, almost all areas around the school were parked with vehicles and all other means of transport ready to receive the books received and transport them to the various schools.

This day was really packed with events such as trainings, tree planting and finally the main activity of the day; book donation.

In the morning, about seventy attendees comprising teachers, principals, deputy principals, librarians and others representing about thirty-five schools were led to an open field segregated within the university to participate in the tree planting exercise.

Prof. Nyamai Daniel, Professor of Agroforestry and Environmental Conservation, encouraged them to plant trees that are friendlier to the environment.

Prof. Wilson Otengah, Director of Open Distance Education, who also represented the Vice-Chancellor on the day, raised awareness of the importance of participating in this exercise.

“Some of these huge trees were planted by people who may not be around today, but you can see how beautiful they are and how many benefits we get from them,” he began.

Nakitare, the head librarian, launched an initiative called #OneBookOneTree, requiring each school representative to plant a tree equivalent to the total number of books one will receive. While addressing the press, Nakitare said the move aims to promote a greener environment as a way to mitigate climate change. In support of this initiative, the University also donated free tree seedlings to the participants.

Afterwards, all attendees were taken for a briefing session before the official start of the book donation ceremony.

At this time, Dr. Lameck Rono, Dean School of Infocoms that books give students the opportunity to explore the world.


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“Reading books is a gateway to exploring the world and advancing knowledge. Books will help young people understand the world and have the opportunity to travel,” he said. Dr. Rono also acted on behalf of the school senate.

Thereafter, the ceremony was officially launched by Prof Wilson Otengah and the entire process of book distribution was concluded. At least 40,000 books were officially handed over to the current 35 schools.

In addition, each school representative received a certificate and a manual entitled “How to set up and run a small library in Africa” written by ALP.

Let’s not forget that this program came a month later, after the annual 9e ALP Summit that brought all stakeholders from other African countries and the US to Migori, Kenya.

The event also took place in collaboration with Kibabii University.

By Wafula Meshack

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