The education system in Kenya is difficult for many students. Since 2003, free primary education has been provided by the Kenyan Government in public schools but secondary school costs approximately £370 per year for each of the four years of secondary education. This is prohibitively expensive for many families with low or no real income, so there is very low take up of secondary schooling in some areas.
The Akili Trust works in a rural and coastal part of Kenya, Kilifi District.
Our aim is to set up community libraries, based in local primary schools.This allows us to make use of existing property and be part of the existing community. Our libraries are used by the school, other neighbouring primary and secondary schools and by all members of the community.
We stock newspapers, books aligned to the curriculum, books about Kenya, some Swahili literature and books in English to read for pleasure. In recent years, one of the focuses has been to get more Kenyan and other African authors represented in the library. With input from library users and students, our librarians select books and purchase them locally, to supplement donations from the UK with new, in-demand, literature. Thanks to grants from the Cassel Trust and the Hutton Dabaso Twinning organisation we have also been able to equip the libraries with revision guides for all curriculum areas and for all levels.
Our work is based on a belief in the value of education and the need to broaden minds. We know how key reading and ideas and libraries are to this. We are supported in this by the communities.
Akili is an example of a small economic model of intervention – planned with and working with the local community, through management committees, local staff and families .
Through library committees at Dabaso and Kakuyuni, we run a bursary programme for students who otherwise would not be able to attend secondary school. Selections for bursaries are made based on need and academic performance. One aim of the bursary programme is to promote equal opportunities for girls to study in secondary school.
The Akili bursary programme depends upon constant fundraising. Currently the programme represents almost half of our annual spending. There are a number of ways you can support this:
A commitment to fund a bursary for one student over 4 years of secondary schooling. This would cost £370 p.a for 4 years, £1,480.
A commitment to fund one year’s bursary for a student. This would cost a one-off payment of £370.
A general donation to Akili towards the overall cost of the bursary programme.
Employing and training library staff is a key component of the Akili Trust’s programme. The librarians came to their jobs with a good general education but no specific library qualifications. UK-based trustees with library experience have delivered training on the technical aspects of running a loans library, including cataloguing books and issuing systems. The librarians are encouraged to seek out local training opportunities and each library has developed their own training programme.
The librarians are also working on a programme of reader development activities to encourage children’s reading and library use.
The library at Dabaso supports two local schools with collections of books and library outreach work – in Watamu Primary School and the school on Kirepwe Island near Dabaso village.
A number of other local schools and early years settings regularly borrow collections of books for use in their school.
Many of the local primary and secondary schools in the area do not have libraries so teachers visit to borrow large collections of books to use in their schools and students visit regularly for private study.