Senior Students Work Together with Junior Students to Promote Reading

19 December 2009

A fun reading day... Article written by Omar Mwangari and Sara Sadiq

Presentation of 1 of the classroom libraries donated by AKA,M. Right to Left: EAQEL Program Officer Yusuf, Diana Miana, Sara Sadiq, Head Teacher Mariam, Omar Mwangari.On Tuesday, November 24th, 2009, 13 Diploma students and 25 Junior School students participated in a Fun Reading Day at Ng’ombeni Primary School in Kwale. Under the leadership of Diana Maina, (a 2009 AKA, M graduate), Omar Mwangari, and Sara Sadiq, (current Diploma 2 students), a whole school Book Drive, the creation of storybooks by junior school students, and donations from local businesses, were organized to support the Fun Reading Day. In total, over 170 books were donated to establish the school’s first library that will cater to Ng’ombeni’s lower primary classes, which are over enrolled and in one case have students learning outside under a tree.

A reading session led by Rebekah Muwaeme- DP Student, outside where one of the lower primary classes is held everyday.But the day was not only about establishing a much needed library. It was also meant to promote the importance of early grade reading and the enjoyment that reading can bring to students lives, both academically and personally. As well as to be a day for primary and Junior School students from diverse backgrounds to learn from and about each other.

AKA,M Junior and Ng’ombeni students playing games to get to know each other on the Fun Reading Day.The Fun Reading Day was a great success in achieving these goals. It brought together the junior students from both schools, and despite the socio-economic and cultural differences amongst the students, they were able to share their learning experiences and provide hope and motivation to each other to work hard and achieve their goals for the future. Students were also able to identify their commonalities, with the foremost being that they all attend school with the hope of finishing their education and making their dreams a reality.

A reading session led by Fahima Salyani- DP student and AKF service placement participant.This Fun Reading Day outreach project was a result of the experience Diana, Omar and Sara had as volunteers in the AKA, M and AKF Summer Service Placement Programme. For 7 weeks during their summer they volunteered with Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) development projects in Mombasa. During which, the students were able to engage with local communities and development issues first hand.

Through their placements and exposure to EAQEL’s work in enhancing the quality of education for students in their early primary years, Diana, Omar, and Sara learned that among the many challenges that public primary school children face, the inadequacy of learning materials including story and text books in classrooms has become paramount. As a result, without the necessary learning materials especially in the early years, literacy levels become very low in the upper classes as many students are unable to gain the basic skills in their first few years of education. With this understanding, the 3 Diploma students decided to hold a book drive along with a day to promote the importance of reading in the early years at an EAQEL supported school.

Although this was a project initiated by Diploma students, it would not have been possible without the Senior and Junior School’s support. As a result, we wish to thank all those who put their thoughts down on paper to generate storybooks, to those who donated books to the students of Ng’ombeni Primary, and to the generosity of Junior School students in their Halloween fundraiser. Not forgetting all the stakeholders and donors who worked also hard in making this day a success. Thank you.

(*Note: The Aga Khan Foundation and AKA, M have been linked through an ongoing Community Service Partnership between the two AKDN agencies.)