It is no news that there is a book famine in most parts of the African continent – a dire situation where books are not only absent from the library shelves of public and private institutions of learning, but also scarce within the walls of bookshops!
How do students who attend educational institutions within affected communities learn without books? How do teachers and lecturers plan lessons and recommend reading materials? With such a situation, teachers in Africa have to improvise and students make do with what they have because teaching and learning cannot stop despite this desperate situation. As such, the result is 90% of students in sub-Saharan Africa (over 200 million people) not achieving the level of literacy and numeracy expected after finishing school.
Concerned by this problem, Books2Africa a UK registered charity established by four African students has been on a mission since 2012 to equip schools, colleges, and universities in Africa with much needed books and educational resources. The charity has already shipped more than 1 million books across 20 African countries. However, it could do so much more with funding. As Dr Precious Sango, Books2Africa’s Director of Education who is also in charge of fundraising explains:
“…every month more than 100,000 books are requested from the charity by institutions and NGOs across Africa, establishing there is a demand for books across the continent. Yet despite having the books needed available at our UK office, ranging from primary school to university books, we lack funding to cover the cost of shipping, clearing and delivering the books to those in need. As such, we created the 1 Million Book Club – a group of individual and organisational donors who support our cause by committing to give financial donations towards the cost of shipping 1 million books annually to Africa. Although we expect donors supporting the 1 Million Book Club to commit to giving monthly or annually, several organisations often give one off donations to cover the cost of a consignment of books”.
Recently, one such organisations Concilius AG donated £1,350 to Books2Africa’s 1 Million Book Club. As Alexandra Kieffer a consultant at Concilius explains,
“Every year CONCILIUS donates to a non-profit project supporting access to education on a national and international basis. This year we decided to donate to Books2africa to support and share their amazing work and vision.”
This donation, according to Precious “will go towards funding the shipping cost of 3,000 books (3 pallets) to one of our projects in Africa. A pallet of 1,000 books cost £500 to ship, a 20ft container of 20,000 books costs £5,000 and a 40ft container costs £8,000. Shipping 1 million books a year means the charity needs secure funding of £200,000 annually and the generosity of partners like Concilius is helping us reach that goal.”
As Books2Africa positions itself to not only deliver 1 million books annually, but also computers and other supplementary educational resources, it is clear that the size of the task ahead requires a collaborative effort by like-minded organisations such as Concilius who believe that education is the key to defeating poverty and increasing long-term development across the African continent.