By Rebecca Brett & Lucy Liddle
It's 8pm on the 1st March and children across the UK have only just remembered to tell their parents that it's World Book Day tomorrow! Inevitably they need a fabulous costume to 'WOW' their classmates and celebrate their favourite character.
Parent's are collectively flustered as they run around last minute, trying to find something appropriate for their child to wear... whilst seriously considering sending them to school in a pillow case dressed up as a house-elf.
But despite the stress of the fancy dress, we all know that the importance of books cannot be understated. Reading develops a child's education both inside and out of the classroom.
It allows children to be creative as they envelop themselves into another world.
Children learn about new cultures, feelings and emotions as they develop empathy and social awareness.
It helps children to develop important literacy skills and vocabulary, necessary for success in school and life after education.
But most of all, it allows children to be children.
The children that we support in East Africa are no different. Some love to delve into fantasy worlds, others love to learn about the environment and science. Each child is has their own unique interests that deserve to be nurtured and developed.
In September 2022, Just Be a Child (JBAC) delivered 200 books to FOCUSSA Primary School in Busia, Kenya.
Since 2015, COCO have worked alongside FOCUSSA Africa Trust with the construction of six classrooms, compositing toilets, and the creation of poultry, tree and fishpond income generation programmes. This helps the amazing teachers of FOCUSSA Primary School to deliver quality education for their 154 vulnerable students. However, prior to the support of JBAC, children had to share 1 book between 5 students.
Limited access to books makes it difficult for students to develop a love for reading. With the books being used between so many students at any given time, they would quickly become worn and used, making it difficult for the teachers to provide the quality education that the students require.
Since receiving their books in September, FOCUSSA Primary’s teachers have already reported a number of positive impacts, including students’ increased motivation to practice their English by reading and sharing stories from the books provided by JBAC. The teachers also shared their hopes that the books would help the students to improve their writing, helping to improve their academic attainment.
“Some of the story books here in Kenya are just written words, but when I checked these books, just from their covers, they have nice pictures that attract children and make them want to read them and see what is inside. For sure they are good books, they make students want to read more and more, something that is going to change their reading capability and composition writing.” A Teacher at FOCUSSA Primary School
Reading truly enriches the lives of the children that we support in East Africa - and Collins can tell you about this in a better way that we ever can!
Collins is in Grade 5 at FOCUSSA Primary. He also lives in FOCUSSA Orphanage after his parents separated.
Collins likes English compared to other subjects. His dream is to become a teacher so that he can teach children in Pre-Primary classes how to read.
Collins said “the books are good because like us who live at ‘the home’, we read them during weekend and free time,” helping the children to write their own stories, and to improve their level of English.
We are incredibly thankful for the support of JBAC in the provision of books at FOCUSSA.
Despite the stress of World Book Day for parents, I think that we can all agree that the joy and learning it brings to children is certainly worth it.
If you would like to support COCO and help to provide high quality education for children in rural, poor and marginalised communities you can donate here.
Just £20 could provide vital learning resources for up to 10 students at one of our Schools for Life.