World Education Day: Reading for promoting rights
On January 24, 2024, the sixth International Education Day is celebrated, established by the United Nations to reflect on the importance of education as a right for all and a public good, proposing a theme of reflection each year. This year, the celebration is under the theme "Learning for Lasting Peace."
As part of the Building an Education Village, implemented by AVSI in Ivory Coast and supported by the San Zeno Foundation, books are one of the tools to promote a peaceful community, reaching 6,000 children through colorful mobile libraries involving the entire community.
In Ivory Coast, half the population is illiterate
With an literacy rate of about 50%, the population of Ivory Coast is among the least educated in the world. Illiteracy represents a significant obstacle to learning from primary school onwards. The ability to read helps, for example, in understanding school instructions but also in developing language and cognitive skills. The scarcity of books in schools and homes is one of the issues that mobile libraries aim to address.
Traveling libraries: reading engages teachers, students and families
Mobile libraries are movable structures used to bring books to different places. In Ivory Coast, thanks to the Building an Education Village project, AVSI has initiated the creation of 150 mobile libraries in the Denguélé district in the north of Ivory Coast.
Among the schools reached is the Epp Habitat Institute in the city of Odiénné. "The simple fact that a car loaded with books, arranged in colorful wooden shelves, arrives is already an event that arouses excitement and curiosity in the children," explains the school's director Makeneba Koné "For the children who attend our school, the book is not an everyday object. Almost none of them have any at home; if they read it is because it is a school assignment. Traveling libraries allow them to interact with books and experience how reading is a pleasure and a fun time to share with friends. Children learn, without anyone explaining it to them, what reading can do: excite and intrigue. The teachers are also delighted with this initiative."
Animated readings: an ally for teaching
When a mobile library reaches a school, animated readings are organized involving students in actions, dances, and songs.
"Reading is the essential skill for understanding all subjects - comments a teacher. It's interesting to see how these playful moments become a way to strengthen children's skills, which also facilitates our work as teachers."
Involvement of parents in their children's school life
Among the priorities of the Building an Education Village project is the involvement of parents in their children's school lives, and on the occasion of the arrival of a mobile library, families receive books as a gift. This is a way to introduce reading into homes, stimulate the habit of telling, discussing, and interacting even when the rest of the family cannot read.
Building an Education village - The project implemented by AVSI and supported by San Zeno foundation
The Ivorian school system faces many difficulties that negatively impact the quality of student education. This initiative supported by the San Zeno Foundation aims to reach, in three years, 50 schools, around 30,000 people, and staff from the Ministry of Education and National Literacy (MENA). The goal is to improve access to inclusive education and enhance the academic skills of students in public primary schools in the Denguélé district.
- Provision of instructional materials to students
- Organization of remedial courses for students
- Training and support of 320 school system actors employed by the Ministry of Education (teachers, pedagogical unit heads, education inspectors)
- Rehabilitation of school infrastructure (classrooms, water points and latrines)
- Setting up 150 mobile libraries
- Raising awareness among 20,000 adults about their role in children's education (parents, community leaders, members of Coges - the school management committees)