Can you imagine what it would be like to attend a school which had no books? A school with no computers or internet? What would your life be like right now without these vital learning tools? These are the questions posed by UK registered charity, Books2Africa.
Going to schools without books, libraries, computers or the internet is a reality faced by millions of children across Africa, every day. Research from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics shows that 617 million children and adolescents worldwide are not achieving the minimum requirements for reading and mathematics.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the single largest number (202 million) of children and adolescents who are not learning. Throughout the region, 90 percent of young people aged 6 to 14 are not gaining minimum proficiency levels in numeracy and literacy.
Books2Africa is seeking to change these statistics, transforming the lives of millions of children across Africa by providing books, computers and learning resources that enable individuals and communities to acquire knowledge and achieve their full potential in a globalized world.
At Green Bean Studios, we also feel passionate about giving back to communities, enabling children to learn and nurture a love of reading. We are proud to have donated 150 books from the Green Bean Collection to children in Rwanda and Kenya.
Photo: Green Bean Collection paperback books being given to a family in Kenya.
Founded in 2019 by four African students who came to study in the UK, the charity collects and ships donated educational resources from individuals and organisations in the UK, reducing waste and increasing ‘readcycling’. They collected more than 11,000 books in their first year and were nominated best new volunteering society at the Kent Union Awards in 2019.
Enabling children to have a better quality of learning and have access to a variety of reading materials is at the core of this charity’s vision, but another huge factor is the environmental benefits. According to CODEP (The Construction & Development Partnership), over 13 million books are sent to landfill in the UK every year. World of Books states that at least another 26 million books (26,000 tonnes) are recycled.
Books2Africa saves vast quantities of perfectly good books from being wasted in landfill, giving them a second life which not only improves the education of millions of children in Africa, but also reduces the damaging environmental impact of books being sent to landfill.
Using Impact Reports, which are provided by teachers and educational leaders across Africa, the charity gets important feedback on how the books they are sending make a real difference to people’s lives. Here’s what some of the Impact Reports have revealed:
Tukongote Community Library in Zambia had 27,000 books delivered, which helped 100 students and 20 teachers. A representative from the library shared that:
“Because of the rural location of our school and community and the fact that we currently have no mains power, our teachers had nowhere to source ideas or knowledge from before the library was opened. Having the access to the books has made them become much keener in planning their lessons. They are discovering new and exciting ways to teach and impart knowledge. And they themselves are learning in the process of teaching.”
Adama Secondary School in Ethiopia had 1,172 books delivered, which benefitted 4,160 students. One of the teachers there reported that:
“The books were put in the library so the whole school community could use them. The school has around 4,000 grade 9 and 10 students and every year, the grade 10 students take national examinations. Therefore, the books meant a lot to the students. Although the curriculum is a bit different, the students are using the books in preparation for the national examinations and their teachers are also using the books as additional materials to their existing textbooks. The impact of this project is not only limited to educational purposes because it is also encouraging our students to help others.”
Feedback like this shows the vital importance of books and how they have a real impact on changing and improving people’s lives, giving them a better quality of education and empowering them to learn and enjoy the wonderful pleasure of reading.
Books2Africa are proud to have just shipped their millionth book to Africa. Though this is an incredible milestone, they are now determined to achieve that volume every year. To do this, however, they need help from sponsors, to be able to fund the shipments of books to Africa.
So far, they have shipped 1 million books to 20 African countries, but in order to reach their goal of 1 million books yearly, they would need to send 50 shipping containers of books each year. A single shipping container can hold at least 20,000 books, which equates to 20 tonnes of books!
To cover the cost of shipping 1 million books per year, they would require 2000 people donating £10 per month, or 50 companies committing to sending 1 shipping container each year.
The positive impact this charity has for millions of children across Africa, and the environmental benefits of saving this enormous volume of books from landfill, cannot be overstated. If you’d like to find out more about Books2Africa and how to get involved, you can visit their website https://books2africa.org/, and follow them on social media: Twitter @Books2Africa; Facebook @books2africa.org; Instagram @books2africa.
Look out for Melissa's latest articles on Anita Frost's author website, where she'll talk about topics including business and publishing, author news and events, and giving back to communities. You can find her in-depth monthly feature on the News & Media page of the Green Bean Collection website, discussing children's books and reading, early years education, living a greener lifestyle and all things Green Bean!
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Melissa Brannlund is the features writer and editor, for author Anita Frost.
Look out for Melissa's latest articles on Anita Frost's author website, where she'll talk about topics including business and publishing, author news and events, and giving back to communities.
You can find her in-depth monthly feature on the News & Media page of the Green Bean Collection website, discussing children's books, reading, and all things Green Bean! For more information or any queries, please contact Melissa by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.