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How School Libraries Could Impact 775 Million People

When was the last time you read a book or a magazine or the back of the cereal box or even a sign on the road? Most of us would respond with “today”. For 775 million people though, that is not the case. For 775 million people around the world being literate is a dream not yet achieved.

In 2014, Food for the Hungry (FH) developed a program to build school libraries to help change this.

We can learn alphabets and characters to languages, but if we have no way of reinforcing what we learn then we are still just wandering the desert. Building and filling up libraries with books helps to encourage education.

Being able to read means understanding basic health procedures and medicine labels.

For most of us, we can understand the effects of drinking coffee from a young age or not having enough vegetables in our diet. We understand we can become malnourished, bone deficiencies could occur, and our immune system could weaken. How do we know this? By learning words and their meaning throughout school and reading. Now we can read health articles or books, and understand what our nutritionists and doctors tell us. For the most vulnerable though, having access to books to develop such skills can seem improbable.

Besides being pivotal to ones’ life expectancy, libraries also keep kids and adults engaged.

I received my first library card when I was six years old. I absolutely loved my library card. Books were (and still are) just a whole other world to me waiting to be explored. Each summer I would go every weekend to the library to check out books. It was a time to sit in an air-conditioned place away from the heat, and just turn page after page of new territory. My love for books and the reading programs the library offered in the summer, and throughout the year kept me coming back time after time.

Libraries are a gateway for kids and adults alike to stay out of trouble and continue learning. FH first developed this program in Nicaragua to decrease the dropout rate of students which was 50% at the time. After the implementation of this program, the school retention rate was 84%.

Libraries increase school attendance not just for males, but also females.

According to US-AID, in Ethiopia, only 30% of University students are female – 5% drop out after the first year.  With the encouragement of spreading and gaining knowledge that school libraries offer, this can change. By having the availability to read more, the understanding of the importance of knowledge and the freedom to learn will increase.  With one more book, we can change the mindset that males are more valuable than girls.

We are all God’s children.

Whether we are male or female, 2 or 98, we deserve the same opportunities of one another. In FH Ethiopia, we are working on improving education and literacy rates by building school libraries. We have already started work, and our field staff is thrilled. When asked how school libraries impact the communities that have them in Ethiopia, our field staff responded with this:

“School libraries have impacted the communities in a number of ways, but the most significant one is people have develop a culture of reading. Since we have constructed school based libraries in most of the Food for the Hungry (FHE) operational area, the school performance of our children supported in our program has significantly improved. The quality of education also seen in our operational area due to the fact that teaches also develop their habits of reading and sharing their knowledge.” – Samson Kacha, Program Manager, Integrated Community Development FHE

This can be the reality for all of Ethiopia. It’s not okay that the privileges of reading and obtaining knowledge has not reached 775 million people. Join us today to change that. Donate to help develop Ethiopia’s school libraries fund.