Formal education in Malealea is troubled. Our attendance and exam results are lower than the average in the country. Many students drop out after primary school, and more do not make it to their high school graduation.
Primary school class sizes are large, severely limiting the amount of valuable individualized attention young students receive. Multiple age groups are taught in the same small classroom spaces. When one grade year has to sit for an exam, all other students cannot go to school. Incalculable progress can be lost to these unnecessary breaks in instruction.
In 2004, in partnership with the African Library Project, we decided to introduce the “idea of reading” to Malealea to supplement our children’s education. Reading offers untold benefits to the developing minds of children. It is exercise for the brain. It can expose children to facts about the world they couldn’t have dreamed of, or ideas and ways of life that are foreign and eye-opening to them. It can be a vehicle for their imaginations to run wild, and imagination is the engine of innovation. Innovation is what Malealea needs.
The African Library Project’s initial intention was to bring more books into secondary schools. We have since moved our library to our Community Center so that we can make the books available to everyone, regardless of the school they attend. We believe everyone benefits from access to reading material.
MDT staff opens the library on Wednesdays and Fridays from 2:00-4:00 PM every week, including the weeks that schools are closed. We want to provide mental stimulation for our children when formal instruction is unavailable. Staff will either read a story out loud to the children who attend, or the children can pick out books of their own. Staff will conduct simple translation and comprehension exercises with the young readers, as well.
The kids can also choose to draw or play games with each other and staff. Our staff members are able to provide these kids with the individualized mentorship and instruction that is less readily available to them from school.
In November 2017, staff members Mateke Rakojoana and James Alexander will attend the African Library Project Summit in Botswana with the intention of acquiring more books for our library.
For our children. For our future.
- We always need more books. If you are visiting the Malealea Lodge, please consider donating books for the Malealea Community Library at the Lodge’s reception office. We are looking to expand our variety of children’s as well as teen and adult books.