Friday, October 30, 2015

...needs a little support.

The more that you read the more things you will know. The more you learn the more places you'll go! - Dr. Seuss

Well this post will be a little different than what we usually post in that this post is our first asking for support for one of our projects! When we first came to Ka-Langa, one of the many things we did was take a tour of the schools here. One of them, St. Paul’s Primary School,  has quickly become one of our favorite places to visit. Built in 2010 with support from the SOS Village here, the primary school educates nearly 500 students of various ages in grades 1 to 7. It is a mission school with Catholic influence which sets it slightly apart from other government schools. Students report to school at 7:40am for assembly and school lets out at 2:30pm. Compared to other schools we have been to, the quality of education and the dedication of the teachers is astounding. The setup is very similar to the U.S., Grades 1-4 are taught by single teachers teaching a range of subjects, and Grades 5-7 are taught by multiple teachers who specialize in a few subjects. The teachers make do with what they have, and let me say that it is almost awe-inspiring the way teachers at St. Paul’s interact and engage with students using just a chalk board and an old textbook. No fancy smart boards, projectors or computers needed here. One of the only things St. Paul's lacks, that it sorely needs, is a functioning library. Not for lack of trying either, the school does have a library space and it is full of books…books about Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. The library is a mass of textbooks donated by the local Nazarene Mission in Siteki, most of which are irrelevant to the lives of young Swazis, and if that weren't bad enough the textbooks that could prove useful, those in math or science, are beyond the students comprehension levels. Thus, the inspiration for our project.

We are partnering with St. Paul's and filing an application to Books for Africa, or in our case, Books for Swaziland. The Books for Swaziland program is handled entirely by the Peace Corps Volunteers in country, but the books come from Books for Africa in the U.S., I think the books are shipped out of Georgia. The program brings over 30,000 to Swaziland to be distributed amongst 30 schools, hence the need for the application. Schools raise E1500 or $115 USD to cover in country costs (a significant cost especially to primary schools, now that primary education is free in Swaziland and paid for through the EU, schools receive less money per student than the secondary schools where student’s families pay higher fees) and Peace Corps Swaziland covers half of the remaining costs along with donations from outside Peace Corps. This money goes to cover the international shipping of the books and trainings for librarians at each of the schools. This is where we need your help! We need to raise just over $7000 USD to cover these costs and get some much needed books to this country! 

If selected, St. Paul's will be able to specify the type of books they would prefer, and after several meetings with the head teacher (principal) and librarian (an excited Grade 3 teacher), they really want to get some age-appropriate fiction and story books to improve the students English literacy and hopefully to encourage students to read for fun! The existing textbooks in the library will be sorted and some stored, with the other more advanced books being taken to the local high school. This is a wonderful opportunity for this school and they are keenly aware of and excited about the opportunity to engage and interest their students outside of the classroom. The head teacher and the librarian are already discussing reading reward programs and library improvements, as well as fundraising ideas for their end of the deal, so now we need to hold up our end! Help the students of St. Paul's and youth all over the country get access to 30,000+ books by clicking on the link below and making a donation! Siyabonga kakhulu! 

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