In his opening remarks, the Chief Librarian, Mr. Sallieu Turay said the main aim of the project is to identify needs of change by networking the library and the schools. He stressed that the project will focus on taking the library to schools in a bid to motivate pupils to inculcate the habit of reading, increase co-operation and communication with schools.
Mr. Turay disclosed that the first phase will target 15,000 children in 25 schools for which they will train 75 teachers and Head teachers in those schools, and would work in partnership with their five hub regional libraries in Segbewa, Bo, Makeni, Port Loko and Kissy respectively. He reiterated that they hope to distribute thirty thousand carefully selected books suitable for the young readers’, right through to upper primary school children (readers, fiction and non-fiction, story and picture books).
Mr. Turay disclosed that they started training ten librarians in Freetown to provide an oversight in the implementation of the project with schools and said that he is optimistic that at the end of the day, the project will improve the level of literacy and develop the human capacity and once they are able to capture the kids, the reading culture will increase and the children will enjoy, love reading and develop the habit of reading books.
In her remarks, Ms. sally victor, Inspiring Readers Project Manager, Book Aid International said that the Inspiring readers project aims to benefit 250,000 children in Africa, by providing them with Book Box Libraries to primary schools and train teachers in bringing the books to life in the classroom. She said they hope to improve the reading opportunities of a quarter of a million children in Africa. She said they are delighted that Inspiring Readers has received international recognition for its innovation and investment in local capacity, and has won the International Excellence Award in the category of Educational Initiatives against competition from leading publishers in both China and Canada.
Ms. Sally Victor emphasized that Inspiring Readers project has transform so many students in African Countries and expressed her hope that it will also succeed in Sierra Leone. She reiterated that Book Aid believes that every child should have the opportunity to read so there aim to transform the reading journeys of around a quarter of a million African children by providing them with brand new, inspirational and appealing books in their classrooms.
Ms. Victor said that Inspiring Readers not only bring books into schools but encourages children to use their local library. “We use public and community libraries with Children’s Corners as hubs for schools in the surrounding area, giving children access to larger book collections, vibrant library spaces and the passion and expertise of their local librarians”. She Commended the Chief Librarian and Staff for their vision in taking the library to higher heights and expressed her hope that by taking library to the schools there is hope that the project will complement the effort of Government in their free education program in the country.
Launching the project, the Chief Administrator Makeni City Council, Mr. William Alpha, Commended the initiative of the Sierra Leone Library Board and expressed his hope that this will inculcate the habit of reading in schools. He said it is an opportunity for the Makeni City Council to launch the program as this will encourage a reading culture amongst the pupils.
Mr. Alpha encouraged the teachers to go beyond the schools as the library has gone beyond its walls by visiting pupils in their homes so that some of the problems faced by kids will be addressed through counseling. He disclosed that very soon they will launch teachers’ licenses as this will help in empowering teachers and it will be seen as a noble profession.