Publicity statement March 2011
The Akili Trust is a British charity set up to develop community libraries in rural Kenya. We have NGO status in Kenya as ‘Akili Community Libraries’, where we now have two established and fully functioning libraries in Kilifi District, and a third about to be set up in a secondary school. These libraries are making a positive impact in their communities and are used regularly by classes in the school, children from local schools and the adult community. Electricity is currently being installed in the area and this will have an enormous impact on traditional farming communities who up to now have had very little access to television and the internet. We are funding the electricity in both libraries, which will enable people to read after dark.
Education provision is improving in these areas though it is still expensive. Families have to make contributions to primary school costs, though it is notionally free, and secondary education is expensive. Currently, only about 23% of the population of Kenya goes to secondary school and Kilifi District has the lowest take-up of further education in Kenya. Our libraries are based in schools, though the whole community uses them. The teachers claim that the increase in performance in standard tests in both schools is partly because of the increased access to resources,
The Akili Trust aims are to develop a culture of reading and improved access to education. We have a few key objectives for each library:
- They should be staffed with local employees – to make them more than simply collections of books!
- They should be based in schools and made available to the wider community.
- They should be stocked with carefully chosen books from both UK and African suppliers, together with a range of local daily newspapers in Swahili and English.
- There should be electricity and computers.
- There should be local management committees.
- The Trust will fund a number of secondary school bursaries each year in each of the schools where libraries are based.
Libraries in Kenya are held in high regard and are well respected and used, largely because provision is limited and there is a lack of a public library infrastructure. Libraries are seen as key places of free access to learning. The local communities and councillors value our work, and results have improved in both of our schools. The teachers believe that this is, in part, thanks to the greater access to educational resources we provide.
Dabaso library has been established for five years and is located in the primary school compound which has recently been connected to the electricity grid. The school has more than 1000 students and class sizes are between 50 -70. The library is adjacent to the health centre and is open to the entire community. It provides access to daily newspapers in English and Swahili and a good range of books.
The Akili Trust, with Computer Aid, have funded 7 computers for each library, one of which will be based in the staffroom in each school for the teachers’ use. The intention is that the computers will be used to train the primary school staff and other local teachers; to train school students and the Akili bursary students and to be available for community use at a small charge.
Kakuyuni library was set up three years ago and has already made an enormous impact in the local community. It is within the compound of the Kakuyuni Primary School but has its own entrance for the community and is separated from the school by a ‘living’ fence. The Headteacher and Management Committee have grasped the Akili vision and are excited by the opportunities that are being created. They are working hard to develop a culture of reading in the local community and want to make the library a ‘lively place’. The outside area has been developed to provide more spaces to sit and read, in the shade of makuti shelters.
Bursary Students Scheme
Education is one of the key forces for change in these communities. Library access can support both formal and informal learning at all ages and also within families. Each year the Akili Trust sponsors the secondary education of one boy and one girl from each primary school .The bursary student scheme requires students to give something back to their communities by working in the libraries during their school holidays. As well as general duties, they help with coaching younger students.
Costs – full details of ‘What money buys’ are available on the website