Chimbundire Basic School in Katete never had a library, but its teachers and administrators didn’t let the lack of resources get in the way of ensuring the highest possible quality education for their young students. With only a few books, the school implemented a reading program once per week, and held story sessions under a tree on the school grounds.
When our team in Zambia first visited the school and saw the enthusiasm for reading of the school’s 1,000 students, we knew we wanted to partner with Chimbundire Basic to build a library. With more books and trained librarians, we thought, imagine what they could do!
For this project we would have to start from scratch. An average class size of 114 meant that there was no existing space to spare for bookshelves, so we prepared to build a brand new structure that would both house a library and provide additional storage for the school.
While our team got to work on the building design, the community leaders in Katete met to discuss how they could commit a significant portion of the project costs (as is required by Room to Read), knowing that their extremely rural setting did not provide many resources.
In the end it was decided that each village served by the school would take an entire day molding bricks for the new library. The next day, the neighboring village would do the same, and the rotation would continue until enough bricks were made to finish the project.
After the building was complete, Room to Read provided brightly-colored children’s books to stock the shelves along with chairs and desks for library activities. Then we conducted training (the first of several to take place over the next three years) for three teachers, a school administrator and one member of the community on library management skills like book leveling and community engagement.
In the months since Chimbundire Basic got its first-ever library, things have started to change. More committed than ever to ensuring all children in their community gain a solid foundation in reading, the school’s teachers have begun to take time out of classroom instruction to conduct reading activities in the library. “It is so lovely to have our reading program conducted there,” says the school’s head teacher.
A weekly library period for each class to read and check out books has been implemented school-wide, and the facility remains open before and after school so that students can enjoy the new books in their free time as well. Some of the students still like to take books out to read under the old “library tree,” but they no longer have to.
Learn more about our work in Zambia.