Report on the Vacation Classes being organized by the CESRUD/FAVL Ghana libraries

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Paul Ayutoliya writes:

CESRUD/FAVL community's libraries started vacation classes on 7th August 2017 in all the three respective libraries. On the opening Monday, all three libraries recorded a good number of pupils/students taking part. Participants who are mostly basic pupils were on the first day taken through general reading of some selected story books in the respective libraries; this was to help librarians know the reading ability of each participant in order to cater for each and everyone.

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At the Sumbrungu Community library, officially welcoming patrons to Library and particularly this year vacation classes, I touched briefly on CESRUD/FAVL community libraries, the mission and vision of these libraries (this was so because most patrons were coming for their first time). I shared briefly also with patrons my recent visit to Accra and Jordan-Nu library, challenging patrons to actively participate in every activity of reading and/or learning and perhaps others that will be taking place throughout the classes if they also want to tour different parts of the country and beyond.

We read the story of David's Day at the Mine by Deborah Cowley with photos by Kathy Knowles, and Little stories for Little Ears and Good Conduct by Osei Kwadwo, I read aloud for patrons to read after me. It was all excitement and fun as participants took turns in reading on their own for their friends to read after them. Some could read well while others were struggling to read just one page of each story book. The first day they all sat together in the library hall for the start of the classes. We break for 15 minutes to stretch before we continued our reading for the day. They all took part in reading and answering questions from the stories we read on day one. At 2pm we closed for the day.

We continued the classes on the second day trying to finish one of the story books; David's Day at the Mine. David's day at the Mine is a story about mining in a town called Tarkwa in the Western Region of Ghana. David Ansah was narrating his life story after having worked in the mine for most of his life. The story goes like this;  "My name is David Ansah. For most of my life I have worked in a gold mine. My wife's name is Hannah, she looks after our provision store and sells porridge. We have four children. We live in Tarkwa, a town in the Western Region of Ghana. Tarkwa has one of the largest gold mine in the nation and ....."

We were later on in the day joined by the Executive Director of CESRUD/FAVL Ghana, Mr. Rex Asanga who came to see how the vacation classes were going on. He was very happy seeing the young and little ones in their good numbers taking part in the classes this time round. He arrived when I was sharing a story of The Reward of Labour with participants, I had wanted to pause so that we can welcome him but he signaled me to continue with the story, he took some few photos before addressing the pupils. Mr. Rex spent some time with us encouraging and advising pupils to learn hard at all times, he asked pupils to try as much as possible and always read at least two story books in a week. This he said will help them to be able to speak good English, and pass their Exams well o enable them move to the next stage in their academic life with ease. He cited examples of two Senior High School students who have distinguished themselves in the recent released WASSCE results. One of them is Akannae Ayine Ebenezer who completed the Navrongo Senior High School with 8As in all the subjects he studied. Ebenezer hails from Sumbrungu and was able to set this great record, his record shows that Ebenezer was a serious student studying all times. Director said to pupils, they can equally pass well in their Exams as Mr. Ebenezer did, if they will read a lot of books at all time and avoid unnecessary loitering around the market place during nights. He ended by wishing participants well in the classes, and said from time to time, he will be coming around to see how they are progressing in the classes.

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I finished up the story with participants before we closed for the second day. It rained this second day but pupils for the love of the classes defied the rain and came for the classes.

On the third day at the Sumbrungu library, we had to divide users in three different groups due to their numbers and according to their reading abilities. The JHS students sat in one of the summer hut close to the women meeting hall. They were working through mathematics on two set problem, and science by Mr. Gabriel Ayadago a volunteer assistant helping us in the classes.  The other summer hut close to the library was occupied by upper primary pupils who mostly could read well, these pupils were taken care of by Akundikiya Olivia, a caretaker of the Women center. They read the story "Mumaizu and the Hippos" by Kathy Knowles. In the library hall, the lower primary and nursery children were occupied there. The librarian Mr. Timothy takes care of these little ones. He continued with the story of David's Day at the Mine with these little ones. The classes have so far been great with numbers increasing everyday in all the libraries.

On the same third day, after reading the story, questions were asked from the story for participants to answer. They did well by answering almost all the questions asked. The JHS pupils were given exercise which was marked out of ten and upon the assessment; there was a significant improvement in the marks they got. After the exercise, they were taught Integrated Science and Information and Communication Technology on the topics Metals and Non-metals and basic components of the computer respectively.

At the Sherigu Community Library, the vacation classes also begun on a similar note with a general reading on the first and second day, on the story of Otu Goes to Sea by Noreen Mian with photos by Kathy Knowles. Pupils/ students came in their good numbers for the classes, many of whom I spoke with when I visited them on the third day said they want to improve upon their reading abilities, they believe they can read on their own after participating in the classes among other good reasons hence their presence in their numbers.

As I mentioned above, I visited the Sherigu community library on the third day to monitor and supervised how the classes were faring. I was overwhelmed when I got to the library, a good number of mostly basic pupils/students have full up the library, they were seen busy taking part in reading different kinds of story books. The librarian had it tough handling patrons due to their great numbers by my observations. They read Welcome Dede, Believe in yourself and Diana the Hairdresser Learns to Read. I spent some time with patrons examining them of the story books they have read so far, most of them were able to answer the question asked. I officially welcomed patrons to this year's vacation classes and assured them that we will do all in our capacity to help them to able to read and/ or learn well. I share some candies I went with to patrons. They were very happy for the candies and thanked me for the gift.

From the Sherigu library, I proceeded to the Gowrie Community library to also see how the classes were going on so far. The librarian was also busy reading with patrons the story of Fati and the Soup Pot the time I got there. Some few other patrons were busy fixing puzzles and others also played the ludu game after the group reading with the librarian. I spoke to patrons to try as much as possible and read or learn well during the classes, they need to pay attention to the librarian when he reading and ask questions when they don't understand anything. I officially welcome patrons to this year vacation classes and assured them that we will do our best in assisting them to be able to read and read well. I encouraged patrons to keep coming for the classes with their friends and ensured that they benefit out of this year's classes. I shared candies to patrons to in a way motivate them.

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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, FAVL Burkina Faso representative Koura Donkoui, FAVL Burkina Faso program manager Krystle Nanema, and FAVL friends Emilie Crofton and Elisee Sare.

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