This month the Literate Earth Project unveiled their 16th library in Uganda! Over the past seven years, literacy has been their mission as they opened library after library across the nation, providing 47,590 books to students thirsty for knowledge. We are thrilled for all they have achieved! Recently we stopped in to interview Project Manager Sauda Nakasinde to hear her thoughts on project progress and what her quarterly assessment visits to each library have revealed.

What do the assessments measure?

The assessments test whether students’ reading ability is progressing positively since they received the LEP library in their school. It also tests the pupils’ ability to read, understand and comprehend passages and then answer questions correctly. They also offer a large view of LEP’s needs and accomplishment when it comes to fighting illiteracy in schools and Uganda at large.

What differences have you seen in students from schools with Literate Earth Project libraries?

 Sauda at a Literate Earth Project library opening.

Sauda at a Literate Earth Project library opening.

Students with LEP libraries seem to have a lot of self esteem and confidence compared to those in the control group schools. For example, at one time while I was conducting the assessments, a student from Mivule primary read a passage  very well and very fast but didn’t comprehend anything. When I asked him whether he could answer any question from the passage he had read, he confidently answered no. I asked him why. He answered “because I was just reading,” and immediately added “can you please give me a second chance to read again as I comprehend?” This level of confidence from a primary four pupil really stunned me.

What kinds of changes have you seen in students over time? 

Students ability to read and narrate stories has greatly improved. For instance in each school I visited pupils were able to narrate to me stories they had read. There is a primary three student in Mivule who read a book onLittle Red Riding Hood and the three bears and she fell in love with the book, so she decided to call herself Little Red Riding Hood.

Passion and love for books in all schools with LEP libraries has also grown. At Nkumba Quran there is a primary one student who usually comes to the library and every time she visits she goes straight to the display shelf and starts removing books one by one, asking the librarian about any one that is interesting. If she can’t read it, she usually asks the librarian to help read for her as she translates to her in her mother tongue. Also to note is that primary one always leave at 1:00pm, but Shadran always stays behind after all her classmates have gone just to visit the library. The librarian at school also confesses that she has grown fond of her, whereby she always makes a point to always search around the library for a book with an interesting title for her to read each day.

What’s the best part about traveling to the schools to conduct assessments and quarterly visits?

I love the fact that each time I visit  something new has been initiated by the librarians and headteachers to make reading fun and enjoyable in their schools. For instance, some have resorted to creating story reading sessions…some have initiated gifts for students who visit the library frequently, or started book related debates among students. All these innovations are so lovely.

At Nkumba Quran primary school, the librarian has dedicated all her time to attending to students that visit the library. She has made it a point to always change the display shelf to increase awareness to the students on the different beautiful story books within the library every Monday on the assembly. The librarian has also opened up independent pages for each teacher in the borrower’s book just to inspire them to visit  the library out of shame of having blank pages.

Quarterly visits and assessments help me come up with recommendations and factors to be considered by the Literate Earth Project as we move forward.

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