January 2009 Archives

From an interesting study by Walter Bgoya, from the 1980s, available here as PDF.

The Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa is a biennial competition devoted to previously unpublished works of fiction by African writers, and aims to promote and celebrate story writing from all over the continent.

The prize is sponsored by Macmillan Education and focuses on the reading interests of children and young people. There are two awards for children’s literature and teenage fiction and an additional award for the best new children’s writer.

Entrants may select freely from themes that they consider to be of interest and value to their intended readership but all stories should have a strong African flavour. The judges will assess each entry on the depth and originality of the work, the quality of the writing and the story’s appeal to its audience.

The competition is open to all nationals or naturalized citizens of countries throughout Africa and to those born in those countries.

The winners of the 2007/08 Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa and Macmillan Children’s Illustrator Award will be announced in January 2008. Shortlisted entries for the Writer's Prize awards have been announced.

More details here.
HT: Teresa Jolly Holt
Bonjour Michael,
Monsieur X a remarqué que dans les livres il n y a pas beaucoup de textes. Il dit que ce genre de livres intéressent plus les nouveaux alphabétisés ceux qui apprennent a lire. Il dit qu'il serait bien si les volontaires écrivent un peu plus de textes, cela serait adapter aux besoins en lecture des anciens alphabétisés (ceux qui savent déjà lire).

Michael répond:
"Pourquoi des livres de photos et dessins et petits phrases?" Bien sur je suis d'accord avec X que ca serait souhaitable d'avoir les deux types de livres! On ne peut pas tout faire. Hier j'ai lu un livre avec Sukie- 15 pages, cinq mots par page... c'est ca qui est bon pour les tous nouveaux lecteurs. X ne se rappelle pas peut-être que la lecture est difficile et très fatigant dans les premiers mois. Si le texte est trop long, le nouvel lecteur se décourage facilement. Quand Sukie voit un paragraphe, elle dit "Toi tu peux lire ca papa, je suis trop fatiguée." Apres lire un petit livre de petites phrases pour 10 minutes, elle est très fier de chanter ses propres louanges: "Je l'ai lu complètement maman, moi seule!!!!" C'est ca qui l'encourage a continuer avec assiduité. Donc il faut tenir en compte la psychologie de l'enfant.
Prof. Richard Akresh forwards to us what one student, Austin Leefers, wrote about the trip:
Bereba was a fascinating environment for our group of students from the University of Illinois to visit. We were extremely fortunate to be able to spend three days and two nights with the welcoming people of Bereba. Despite our short visit, the villagers welcomed us with open arms arranging a village tour, a mask dance, and a New Years Eve party. We were immediately immersed in the daily lives of the villagers, moving into their homes and sharing meals with the family. We quickly acquired, as we did everywhere in Burkina, a posse of local children following and observing our every move.

The pace of the village was relaxed as they prepared for a New Year's holiday celebration. All over the village, families cooked and prepared for the celebration. The harvest was over, and the Bereba people were ready to celebrate. We were welcomed in every step of the celebration process helping prepare the New Year's meal, brewing Dolo, and finally partaking in a New Year's Eve dance party complete with live band.

The Burkinabe never miss the chance for a good party. We also visited the FAVL library in Bereba. We learned how the library system worked in a village setting and heard from villagers how much it impacted their lives. We learned of the impact that the library is having on students in the village. The library is very much appreciated in the village as everyone we met made a point to stress.

Our village stay was a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of the capital, Ouagadougou. This stay afforded us the opportunity to experience life in rural Burkina Faso. The people seemed genuinely interested in their visitors and in displaying their culture. We will always be thankful to the people of Bereba for welcoming us and to the members of FAVL for facilitating it.
About my accident it was on the 11th of January. On my way home, I got to my house turn and showed my light that I was turning to my left and the car was at my back far from me and I made the turn and crossed to the other side of the road to my house site on the Navrongo lean and unknowingly this car was also on a very top speed and tried to overtake me and finally cleared me on the side of the road at the Navrongo lean. I fell at the gutter unconscious and the Car was carrying the motorbike on the site until it stopped.

A lot of people came out and the driver was attempting to run and they asked him to send me the hospital which he did and after that he came and told the people that it was his problem and that he will take all the cost involved and so the matter should not be reported to the police. He paid a visit to me the following day and took records of the parts of the motorbike and said he was going to bring them so that the motor would be fixed and taken to the mechanic for repairs because it is totally damaged beyond movable and I agreed and even told him that bike was for sale and that I would be happy if I can get it fixed in time to enable me give it out and collect my money. I said this because someone already brought it at 450 cedis only and I hadnot agreed. Since then I have never set my eye on him. I only made a call to him on two occasions and he said he was very busy.

The owner of the car is a worker at Ghana Water Company at Navrongo but he was not from that direction. I have now taking a decision with Rex to go to the office to see if I can meet him then I tried reporting it to the police. Apart from that George who is with the same company is saying that he will do he best to get him pay for the cost. I have just even returned from the office and I had a meeting with him and we both agreed that we meet again tomorrow to buy the parts and take it the mechanic see if he can get it fixed then I sell it. I have reported it to Rex and George about it and they are saying that I should meet tomorrow and make sure the motorbike is sent to the mechanic see if he can work on it.

About my health, I had a lot of wounds and a shoulder problem which I believe is a dislocation. I was at the hospital again on the 22nd and they Dr. was trying to take an X-ray but the specialist was not around so he gave me some drugs to take see if it is paining me then I come back. I have take a local treatment now and it is improving.

Iwinyo Pini

Here's what's been happening in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Sierra Leone (we're not there yet...), Tanzania and Uganda over the past three decades. GNI stands for Gross National Income, and is measured here in "standardized" dollars and divided by the population, so it is roughly "income per person". That income may be distributed quite unequally, especially between urban and rural population. The effects of the war in Sierra Leone are evident, and the legacy of the Ugandan disarray explains why it is poorer than the others. The other three countries seem to be having a very similar experience, and the general upwards trend illustrates why economists are lately more optimistic about the continent.

Ifeoma Onyefulu's children's books

From her publisher, Frances Lincoln:
Award-winning author Ifeoma Onyefulu is Igbo and grew up in the city of Onitsha in Eastern Nigeria. She moved to London to study and worked for a number of black newspapers as a photographer before becoming an author of children's books. Her older son inspired her first book. Disturbed by the stereotypical images of Africa projected in Western media and literature, she was worried that he might grow up with distorted views of his ancestral home. "I began writing for children because I wanted to show him the Africa I grew up in, and its culture."

Onyefulu's internationally-acclaimed photography has been described by Books for Keeps as 'stepping from a darkened room straight into noon sunshine.' She lives and writes in North London where she lives with her two sons.
See her books at her website.

Graphic novels: Aya and The Quitter

I've just finished two graphic novels. Aya, by Marguerite Abouet and illustrated by Clément Oubrerie, which I've mentioned before, is a delightful capsule of well-to-do Ivory Coast in the 1970s. The sepia and earth tones are delightful. The story is a bit confusing, because it revolves around the sexual hijinks of two of a trio of girl friends, and they are not drawn very differently, so i found myself at some point realizing I wasn't sure who was who. An important lesson. The story itself is light soap-opera, and much is left unsaid. That is, there is no interior voice of the characters at all. Reminds us how innovative Proust and Woolf etc. were in their time, making that radical shift from the narrator (who may tell you what the characters are thinking) to the "voice" of the character, etc.

The Quitter, by Harvey Pekar and illustrated by Dean Haspiel, is in black and white, and is the opposite of Aya. Billed as semi-autobiographical, it is a fascinating portrait of a "quitter," Pekar himself. You have to know the story to know what he means. But the self-psychologizing-- the recognition, at 65, of what he was at 10 years old-- is amazing. As the father of a 10 year old, and having been one myself, I appreciate how insightful Pekar is. The disarming thing is the text flows along in an entirely straightforward style, so there is almost no style. The writing is so simple, but you realize how hard it is to get to that level of simplicity. See, I can't do it on this blog! The scene I love: Pekar recounts how his father comes to pick him up at elementary school, and Pekar suddenly realizes he is embarrassed by his father, and runs away, and when his father finally catches up, Pekar is relieved his father doesn't "realize" that he is embarrassed! And of course this is Pekar at 65 remembering his emotional state at age 8.

Chinua Achebe returns to Nigeria

Nigeria: We Need Change in Country - Achebe

Catherine Agbo

20 January 2009

Abuja — Professor Chinua Achebe challenged Nigerians yesterday to be determined to make a change in the socio-political and economic affairs of the nation.

He spoke at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel during an interactive session with journalists and writers. "I must confess very profound disappointment with what is happening on the African continent concerning elections and succession", he said.

"The idea of a civilised society is that power is transferred willingly because the law is there but somehow in Africa, we still have not learnt this very important fact that unless you have a process that makes succession easy and friendly such that even opponents can smile at each other unless we get there, we still have a very long way to go; politics is not war fare, it is discussion.

"We have to be convinced and really determined to make Nigeria one. It is only when we as Nigerians decide that we have had enough that things will change; there is change in America today because somebody got up and said let there be change. It can be done here but you cannot continue going round the circles and expect change. The day we decide it is time for a change I think we will get there".

Read more... and then look at some of the virulent comments. Can someone make money if Achebe leaves and never returns? is there an intrade bet on whether he'd leave? otherwise, how to explain the vehemence?

Well I had to pay shipping too. The photos and text are by Mohammed Amin and Zulf Khalfan... it is called "We Live in Kenya" and it is a very nice elementary school level reader... printed in 1984. Seriously out of date, but a great model for what never happened (thousands of other books just like this...). Mohamed Amin is one of Africa's greatest photographers (he sadly died in in a plane hijacking that went awry). Here's a video intro to his life.

Public libraries in Mali

Entitled: "A Postcolonial Study of Three Public Libraries in Mali" by Jenny Wik. It is a Swedish college thesis, it seems. She discusses three libraries in three small towns. An extract:
The obstacles that the libraries are facing are apprehended fairly similarly in the three cases. The informants say that people don’t like reading very much and that the Malian people don’t have time to go to the library. In Bougouni and Tombouctou the frequentation by girls was very low, which is a serious problem. The girls are in general less educated than the boys and they have obligations in the house-hold work which hinders them to study and to use the library. Providing relevant documentation is difficult, especially in Bougouni and Koulikoro where the choice often is made abroad. The lack of money is a problem in all three cases which hinders the libraries providing sufficient staff, materials and relevant documentation.

One of the clearest issues that indicates postcolonial presence is the inadequate documentation that the investigated libraries are having sent to them. They are sent from abroad, often from France, the former coloniser of Mali, and the books are often old eliminated books not always relevant for the Malian readers. The way this type of co-operation is handled is based upon the fact that the Malian institutions are dependent on Northern values. French books for French readers are being sent to Mali for Malian readers because they are not needed anymore in France can be understood as a serious neo-colonial problem for these libraries. Another problem related to the documentation is that most books are in French in spite of the fact that there is a demand for books in other languages for example English. Books in the national languages are also underrepresented in the three studied libraries.
Another short discussion from 2006 of community libraries in Mali, by Mamadou Konoba Keita, the then Head of the Libraries and Documentation centres department of Mali, and President of the Malian Librarians Association.
- 46 district libraries;
- 1 rural community library;
- 7 national language libraries;
- 6 public libraries in Bamako;
- 6 reading and children's activity centres in Bamako;
- 1 reference library in Bamako;
- 1 children’s library in Bamako;
- 11 book deposits in rural areas bordering the railroad

Yes you saw that right, there is one (1) community library in rural areas in Mali (i.e. in villages). There are about 15,000 villages in Mali. So only 14,999 to go.
Kate Parry writes:

On February 23-24, UgCLA is to hold a workshop on the topic of “Libraries for Education and Development”. All the libraries that are members of the Association will be invited to send one representative, and the coordinator and the librarian of FAVL’s library at Chalula in Tanzania are expected to come as well. The first day will be devoted to “Education”, discussing how librarians can work with teachers at primary and secondary levels, what educational activities can be included in the libraries’ own programs, and what materials are available, and appropriate, for adult neoliterates. The second day’s discussions will focus on “Development”: how librarians can build up a stock of materials on such topics as public health, agricultural practices, and social concerns, and how they can work with local NGOs and rural extension workers. We plan to arrange for members of our Board of Directors to facilitate the sessions. The workshop will finish with our Annual General Meeting, when we will report on our activities and finances to all the members present.
We have at several projects that we are working on simultaneously.

1) Supporting Uganda Community Libraries Association. If you have experience with reading education and books in Uganda, consider joining the FAVL East group, led by Kate Parry, working to fundraise and support UgCLA. We especially need to assure the salary of the association coordinator in Kampala, whose work visiting the various community libraries and developing training programs for them is essential . Kate is presently in Uganda. if you are in Uganda, let us know and we'll get you in touch with Kate. if you are in the New York area, the FAVL East group has periodic meetings and we can let you know of the next meeting.

2) Map the community libraries of Africa! This project using Google Earth aims to create a database and wikiable web site for every community library in Africa. Imagine being able to upload pix and commentary on community libraries anywhere in the continent, from anywhere, and have a group of "friends of" that particular library share the connection to readers and librarians in a remote village. Some Santa Clara University students are taking the lead on this, together with former SCU student, and now newly-minted geographer Meredith Albert. if you have software coding expertise in this area, drop us a line.

3) Improving and implementing summer reading programs. I'll be posting the data from the summer reading programs of Burkina Faso last summer, but preliminary analysis suggests that the camps had a decent effect on performance on reading tests, and certainly there was widespread agreement among teachers, student sand camp counselors that this was and could continue to be an amazing experience for fourth graders.

4) Start gearing up programming in Sierra Leone, where we have some seed funding to work with the community library sector. Have you spent time in Sierra Leone, or are you involved in education (especially reading) issues in Sierra Leone? Join our network.

5) Improve financial processes... the back room is an important room. The indefatigable Deb Garvey, FAVL treasurer, could use more help, if you are here in San Jose, California and can commit several hours a week to bookkeeping.

6) Upgrade the FAVL website... yeah, more back room stuff. But the web keeps advancing, and the cutting edge work of needs updating.

7) Improve "record-keeping"... small non-profits face this challenge as they grow: the founding board members don't have enough expertise to bring the organization into bureaucratic best governance practice (i.e. a BLGP expert, aka Breathing and Living Government Paperwork expert). Again, we would sooooo appreciate a local San Jose volunteer who could devote several hours a week to "interfacing" with the soon to be bankrupt State of California, including the franchise tax board, the secretary of state, the attorney general, and every other California entity that wants to "fee" anything that moves, as well as other government and non-profit entities. Good stuff!

8) Adopt a library in Africa and send them an occasional box of appropriate books. Do you read a lot of African fiction (you should) or love multicultural oriented children's books? Then consider spending a few hours each week at garage sales and local library sales and thrift stores, and spend $50 every few months, to send a small box of books to one of the community libraries we support. Librarians and readers are very energized by "new" books to read. And hey, you can throw in some children's stickers for the kids too. Very low key way to feel great about yourself, especially if you read the books too (and if you come across some Patricia Polacco books, be prepared to get weepy.)

For Ghana send to:
Amikiya A. Lucas
Library Projects Coordinator
Box 267
Bolgatanga GHANA

For Burkina Faso (French only, please) send to:
Saré Elisee
Amis des Bibliothèques de Villages Africains
09 BP 938
Ouagadougou 09

Contact FAVL director for West Africa Michael Kevane mkevane@scu.edu for more info.
Just finished this interesting book, Mémoires de porc-épic by Alain Mabanckou. Hard to know what to say. The story is very straightforward. What I see in some of the online commentary is "aventures rocambolesques." A man and his porcupine double "eat" the residents of the village. People who live in Africa for any length of time are familiar with the idea, a favorite topic of anthropologists (is it real? false consciousness? me?). The people in Africa who I like best, as you may know, are the ones who say, "I have no time for such mysteries." The style and voice are more important than the text. No sentences, instead each short chapter is a long fluid paragraph. And I will say they are quite interesting here, but I do not know if my French is subtle enough to capture it. So I'm at loss for words.
Sare Elisee writes:

C’est le lundi 29 décembre 2009 que j’ai rencontré Richard Ackresh a l’ODE auberge situé a quelques encablures de l’université de Ouagadougou. Richard est professeur dans une université de l’Etat d’Illinois aux Etat Unis. Il a organisé une sortie d’étude et de découverte au profit de ses étudiants. C’est dans cette optique que FAVL les reçoit a Bereba ou a été installé la première bibliothèque villageoise. Très occupe par les préparatifs du voyage, Richard m’a envoyé chercher de livres que les étudiants voudraient bien offrir a la bibliothèque de Bereba. C’est ainsi que je me suis rendu a la Diacfa (une librairie de Ouagadougou) d’où j’ai ramené une bonne dizaine de livres moyennant 25.000 CFA.

Les étudiants passeront sur place la demi-journée du 30 la journée du 31 et la demi-journée du 1er janvier 2009. Donc les étudiants feront la nuit du 30 décembre et celle de Saint Sylvestre au village.

Le départ pour Bereba est prévu pour mardi 30 à 8 heures du matin ; j’ai retrouvé Richard et Emilie (un autre enseignant) et les 18 étudiants prêts pour le voyage.

Nous prenons donc le chemin pour Bereba. Pour la grande majorité des étudiants c’est le premier voyage en Afrique. Certains ne sont jamais sortis des Etats-unis. Le paysage était donc un spectacle fascinant pour eux, eu égard aux exclamations de ceux-ci.

Nous avons pris le déjeuner a Hounde où nous sommes arrivés à 13 heures, Donkui nous y attendait. Plus tard, en 45 minutes, de route nous voici a Bereba. Les étudiants logeront dans 9 familles a raison de 2 par famille. Je fais la connaissance Christina CHOU et Anjali THAKAR qui loge chez Donkui. Nous faisons une petite promenade dans Bereba. Elles me paraissent plutôt enchantées de découvrir et de séjourner dans ce village sans électricité et ou l’eau potable n’est pas la denrée la plus courante. La nuit s’est plutôt bien passée à part Anjali qui a eu des nausées vers 3 heures du matin. Mais plus de peur que de mal. Elle est néanmoins restée au lit toute la matinée du 31 décembre.

La matinée du 31 rendez vous chez Donkui, Nous allons rendre une visite au chef de terre. Chez le chef du village encore un malade ; Jared HALL, il a eu des nausées dues selon lui à une prise irrégulière de médicaments, il est rentré se reposer chez Dounko son logeur.

Peu après, les étudiants sont divisés en 3 groupes pour la visite du village qui durera environ 2 heures. J’ai conduit le groupe avec lequel j’étais visités la bibliothèque, la vieille mosquée, la nouvelle mosquée, la vue du village sur une terrasse, le stockage de coton, un puits d’eau remarquable par l’absence de margelle. Quelqu’un n’y est jamais tombé ? A demande une étudiante. Une villageoise à qui nous avons posé la question nous a répondu que non. Mais que cela pouvait arriver ailleurs mais assez rarement quand même.

À la bibliothèque, de Bereba, les questions ont plutôt été axées sur les sources de financement, nos rapports avec les autorités et l’intérêt que porte les villageois a la bibliothèque. Je leur ai expliqué avec Ivette que nos principales ressources tant matérielles -notamment documentaires - que financières est l’œuvre de donateurs. Et comment pour impliquer davantage les villageois, il est mis en place dans chaque village abritant une bibliothèque un comite villageois de gestion des bibliothèques. Faisant allusion a Philipe Kahoun j’ai expliqué qu’un ressortissant de Dohoun a offert en Août un lot de matériel (livres cahiers) a la bibliothèque de ce village. De plus, les autorités aussi bien locales que nationales ont bien accueilli la création des différentes bibliothèques. Et bien que leurs appuis ne soient pas forcément réguliers, les autorités reconnaissent et louent l’utilité publique de l’action de FAVL.

Dans l’après-midi de ce 31 Décembre, une danse de masque est organisée devant chez Donkui. Les villageois y sont invités. Avant que le masque ne danse les personnes en difficulté qui avaient reçu des effets a la visite précédente de Richard et de ses étudiants ont tenu a lui exprimé toute leur reconnaissance par de remerciements sincères. Les étudiants très enthousiastes ont dansé au rythme des tambours et des balafons avec le masque. Même Anjali et Jared les deux malades étaient présents et se portaient visiblement mieux vue qu’ils esquissaient aussi des pas de danse. Une bonne partie du village est présente. C’est une bonne petite fête presque improvisée ; l’expression même d’une inculturation circonstancielle pour ces jeunes gens venus d’outre-atlantique.

La nuit, une réception est organisée à la bibliothèque de Bereba. C’est l’occasion pour nous de remercier ce groupe d’étudiants qui ont eu le courage d’affronter les contraintes d’une terre jusqu’alors inconnue a eux. Les étudiants ont profité de cette nuit pour offrir quelques livres qu’a offerts donnés l’ambassadrice des Etats unis, mais aussi ceux que j’ai précédemment achetés à la Diacfa. Trois étudiants, ceux qui comprennent le mieux français ont remis solennellement les livres aux représentants de FAVL. Ensuite a suivi le repas. Les griots invités à animer la soirée ont réussi à émerveiller les étudiants. C’est encore parti pour une soirée festive en cette nuit de Saint Sylvestre. La soirée s’est bien déroulée et a 24h, après les souhaits du nouvel an, chacun est rentré chez son logeur.

La matinée du 01 janvier est consacrée au préparatif du retour. À 11h30 de ce premier jour de l’année 2009 nous prenons le chemin du retour.

À 16h, nous rentrons à Ouagadougou,

Sare Elisee has just sent me a few photos from their trip to Burkina.

I love this picture...

Sam Baker and Austan Woody sent me this picture from the library in Dohoun in Burkina Faso. First of all, the intriguing shirt- what is it that is 200 years old? The slate and chalk technology for learning how to read? Second, the boy to the right is wearing a straw hat. What few people realize is that probably he made that hat himself, out of straw grown "locally"... the hats aren't always that comfortable (a little stiff) so there is no export potential there. But how many ten year olds can weave a straw hat in the U.S.? If he is reading more books and learning how to write = less time for straw hats, eventually forgets how to make them, another skill lost. Philosophical musings about our humanness thus inspired by picture. Third, where they are: in the FAVL "hangar" with the cement benches. We built it, and they came to hang out (that's *not* why it is called a "hangar" BTW). Fourth, most of the kids are barefoot. Clothes are dirty and full of holes, Toronto Mapleleafs meaningless, and to cover a wound, the boy on the right has strips of cloth around his shins/calfs. but big smiles all around. No whining here. Again... humans seem to be very adaptable. What is the meaning of life, the picture forces us to ask. And I have't even started on the post-modern deconstruction of the yellow bag in the corner.
Peter Singer famously moralizes about the ethical duty to give just about everything you have away to help the truly unfortunate. His example: you have a choice to throw the railroad switch, on one siding stands a child, oblivious to the runaway train, on the other hand your classic car, your life's pride and joy and your retirement savings, all gleaming but stalled on the track. Do you kill the child, or destroy your own life? If you agree to save the child, why are you not doing that right now, when so many children die from cheaply preventable diseases?

There are many objections to this kind of reasoning: artificial, constructed examples might lead you to all sorts of contradictory choices; your brain does not respond to reason when making choices, so the construct is irrelevant; maximizing the well-being of others leads to all sorts of strange paradoxes, etc.

But.... is it "better" to donate to a village library in Africa than to Oxfam or Mercy Corps, which promise to "save lives" right away? Is it better to donate to the Genocide Intervention Fund? How is one to make choices amongst these competing charities? Is dividing up your charitable giving among 10 different charities a cop-out? How long would it take you to learn which charity was most effective? How long would it take you to learn what your own brain wants to accomplish with its charitable giving? Does your brain even have a goal, when it decides to give?

I've been thinking about this line of questioning for years, and feel comfortable with my "pragmatic" answers to these question... do you?

Wonderful project: Books of Hope

Books of Hope is a service-learning program where U.S. schools sponsor a school abroad and create books to help meet the students' educational needs. We provide teachers with information about their sponsored school and instructional materials to help facilitate the project. Along with writing, illustrating and binding books, schools also have the option of collecting and sending other supplies for their sponsored school.

Books of Hope is an ideal way to incorporate service into practically any unit of any classroom at any level. We encourage schools to create books about science, math, geography, reading readiness, English grammar, and a whole variety of other topics.

Over 50,000 students, teachers, parents and community members from over 1000 schools across the country have been involved in the Books of Hope program. During the 2007-8 school year, we collected over 10,000 pounds of books and next year we hope to double that.

IFLA newsletter Africa Section

Teresa Jolly Holt sends us the link, here.
The impact of popular literature study on literacy development in EFL: more evidence for the power of reading
Christy Ying Laoa and S. Krashen
System Volume 28, Issue 2, June 2000, Pages 261-270

University level EFL students in Hong Kong who participated in a popular literature class that emphasized reading for content and enjoyment, including some self-selected reading, made superior gains on measures of vocabulary and reading rate, when compared to students enrolled in a traditional academic skills class. Eighty-eight percent of the literature students felt that what they learned from the course would help them in other university courses, but only 12% of the traditional academic skills students had this opinion about their class. These results are consistent with previous studies showing that meaningful reading is an important source of literacy competence.

Interesting study of reading

"Comparing the Effects of Reading and Writing on Writing Performance" WAI-KING TSANG Applied Linguistics. 1996; 17: 210-233

The study compares the effects of an enriched syllabus which included extensive reading and frequent writing assignments on English descriptive writing performance at different form levels It examines a group of Cantonese-speaking students at four form levels in Hong Kong who participated in three English programs (A) regular plus unrelated (mathematics) enrichment program, (B) regular plus extensive reading, and (C) regular plus frequent writing practice Results demonstrated significant main effects due to the nature of program and form level with no significant interaction of these factors The regular plus extensive reading program was overall significantly effective, while both the regular plus mathematics program and the regular plus frequent writing practice were not In the area of content, the reading program was the only one which showed a significant positive effect Similarly, in the area of language use, the reading program was the only one of the three shown significantly effective

Never heard of this, have you?

The title is "Hooked On Books: Program & Proof" by Daniel N. Fader & Elton B. McNeil. Maybe I never heard of it for a reason... otherwise would it have been turned into a purse by someone at etsy.com? Oh I forgot: ;-)
Here's one entry about two Ethiopian libraries... there is lot's more here.

Today we had a chance to visit some reading rooms, or small libraries, in the company of CODE Ethiopia’s Executive Director Tesfaye Dubale. The first one was meant to be a youth centre, but when the community heard that CODE would start a library in their area, they donated it freely and have begun construction right next door for the youth centre. It promises to be a great spot for children in the area. The kids at this reading room spoke English well and we jumped into the centre of a group of students, laughing and talking with them. The second reading room we visited was in a town called Sebeta, in a semi-urban area just outside of Addis Ababa. It first started as a converted one-room house, donated by the town’s mayor in 1988. CODE-Ethiopia provided books and trained four librarians and five management committee members. With improved resources and services students from Sebeta and also the surrounding area flocked to the Reading Room. The Sebeta Reading Room was so successful that a second larger one was built by the community to accommodate the demand for access to resources. It’s an impressive story, and we were especially inspired to learn that community members are now working to erect a third library building, thanks to a generous benefactor in the area. In addition, the local government has now included ongoing funding in their municipal budget. This is the definition of sustainability and success in development, and we’re all feeling lucky to see it.
-Ann Speak, Director of Fundraising, CODE

Libraries and Information Services Towards the Attainment of the UN Millennium Development Goals Edited by Benson Njobvu and Sjoerd Koopman. Munich: K.G. Saur, 2008 (IFLA Publications; 134) ISBN 978-3-598-22040-1

The United Nations Millennium declarations of 2002 set eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to be achieved by 2015. The high poverty levels in most African countries make many aware that it is no longer up to the governments alone to find ways of abetting it, but that other organizations need to join the fight. Libraries are well placed to contribute to the development process in supporting it by providing relevant, up to date and reliable information. The papers presented in this publication address the question how African libraries and information professionals seek to make themselves relevant to national development. All of them focus on how libraries and information centres could contribute to the attainment of these MDGs. The papers are a selection of the proceedings of the Eighteenth Standing Conference of East, Central and Southern Africa Library and Information Associations (SCECSAL) held in Lusaka, Zambia, from 15th – 18th July 2008.

That's what happened to Marilyn Deer, and the result is a nice article in Scholastic.com about Jordan Nu library in Ghana. You never know what might happen... so give a stranger a warm cup of coffee next time you are traveling, all you favlheads, pull out your latest FAVL newsletter, and ...
A New Library in Ghana
Scholastic.com Sept/Oct 2008
After one of our editors had a chance meeting in an airport (as a silver lining to a long delay), the Instructor staff got some new inspiration from a library in Africa. Marilyn Deer is a retired nurse from Seattle who wanted to share the joy of reading.

As a daughter of missionary parents, she had traveled in Africa and grown up in Nigeria. In 2002, she visited a town in Ghana called Jordan Nu and decided they needed a library—to provide a mosquito-free, well-lit, comfortable and inviting place to read and study. The community provided the difficult manual labor for the building, completed in 2007, after nearly five years construction (with women carrying river water in headpans from half a mile away so the builders could mix cement). Deer provided most of the funding, with some donations from interested friends and family. We will, of course, be sending her books! Below are some photos from the completed project. We hope you find them as inspirational as we do.

To make donations, go to Friends of African Village Libraries, a worthy organization, no matter what, but if you include a note for Jordan Nu, your donation will go there directly.

Education in Burkina Faso

A Peace Corps volunteer named Lara, teaching math and science in a small village in norther Burkina Faso, has a great, though occasional, blog about education and village life.
I love to think about my students being able to support their families like this if they can through the system. If it wasn't for this, and their enthusiasm I really don't know if I could have made it to this point in my service. It truly is inspirational to see them waking up at five in the morning to do chores, then walk to school for seven o'clock classes, back home for lunch, and then back to school in the afternoon. Then finding a way to study at night...if they're lucky and have electricity, then they can use a lightbulb until the power cuts out at 11 pm...if they can't then their parents buy kerosene for a lamp for them. I've even heard of students lighting small bonfires in the bush with remnants from the last millet harvests to have light to study. It makes everything that I did to get my education in America seem so much easier. I had a fantastic free public education through high school and then went to a university with libraries, laboratories and resources beyond imagination.
For the complete list of members of the Uganda Community Libraries Association, see here. For a great example of one of the member libraries see the Nambi Sseppuuya Community Resource Centre.

Social tourism on a book bus in Zambia!

Teresa Jolly Holt sends us to this volunteer opportunity: VentureCo has a "book bus" in Zambia, and you drive around with them stopping at villages and doing story hours. What a great idea! Spend two weeks with them (the cost is about $750) and then if you develop a taste for volunteer work in Africa, consider volunteering in a FAVL library for a longer stay, living in a village and really getting to know people.


Books, reading, and libraries relevant to Africa by Michael Kevane, co-Director of FAVL and economist at Santa Clara University.

Other contributors include Kate Parry, FAVL-East Africa director, Peace Corps volunteer Emilie Crofton, Krystle Austin, Elisee Sare, and Monique Nadembega.

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