The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed lives around the world, affecting economies, living situations and posing the lingering question: what happens next? One of the major aspects of life affected by the pandemic in all communities is education. According to UNESCO, COVID-19 has directly affected the education of 1.06 billion children worldwide as of July 2020. With school closures and cases continuing to surge, the nature of teaching has been forced to shift considerably. In Africa, different countries are determining how to proceed with precautions to keep students, educators and their families safe while still facilitating education. The Ministry of Education in Senegal, for example, is providing educational aid in the form of online learning and resources. For those who may not have internet access, however, this makes receiving education challenging. Book Aid International, an organization providing books to children across 26 African countries, is seeking to correct this challenge by administering online educational tools as well as resources that do not require an internet connection.

Book Aid International

Book Aid International’s central mission is to provide books to children in poverty. The organization accomplishes this goal by organizing talented staff members and garnering donations for its cause. In 2019, Book Aid International was able to provide 1.2 million books to children across 26 countries. Distributing books to those in poverty allows for educational growth and increased opportunities for the future. Not only does this organization positively impact education, but also the healthcare industry. Through partnerships in 2018 with Elsevier and Elsevier USA, over 154,000 medical textbooks were donated to hospitals and schools to aid students pursuing healthcare careers.

COVID-19 and Book Aid International

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Book Aid International is developing an improved vision for the rest of 2020. The organization is continuing with book distributions in areas where it has established partnerships, but is also working toward providing e-resources to various communities. COVID-19 has forced many schools around the world to shut down completely. Some can provide online learning but in rural countries, online access may not be available to every student. However, in areas that Book Aid International has given aid, teachers can provide students with books donated by the organization, helping to close the gap between those with internet access and those without. With these resources, children can learn to read while schools are closed.

Adapting to a new routine can be difficult, especially for educators who want to aid their pupils. Having a book to read at home can inspire and help children exercise their minds and prepare for returning to school as the global situation continues to develop. While COVID-19 has presented several disruptions to this pursuit, efforts like that of Book Aid International can provide students with the resources they need to succeed at home.

Brooke Young
Photo: Flickr

Free medical textbooks, increased medical training and resources, rural community-based intervention programs and a new medical facility are helping to improve healthcare in Zambia.

Sachibond: A Small Clinic Becomes First-Level Hospital

In a remote area of northwestern Zambia, Sachibondu started as a small clinic in an area where many people lack access to basic physician care, some walking for days to reach this facility. It is now turning into a new hospital facility, undergoing major construction and upgrades which “will meet government requirements for a first-level hospital, which will attract more funding and staff resources from the Ministry of Health.” The new hospital will potentially reach tens of thousands of patients.

Upgrades at Sachibondu include x-ray and scanning technology, full operating capabilities, extensive inpatient and maternity wards and isolation areas for infectious disease control and treatment. The construction includes innovative design for ensuring fresh-air ventilation capacity and maximizing a layout for providing worker well-being and optimal clinical accessibility function. Also, designers strategically placed plants and other shades for providing privacy and to reduce overheating.

One of Sachibondu’s new architecture goals was to optimize worker and patient well-being because, as Jackson Amone from the Uganda Ministry of Health said, “Health is the state of physical and mental well-being, not just the absence of infection and disease.”

Sachibondu is run by the Zambian Government Ministry of Health, the Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ) and the Sachibondu Health Committee; several volunteers also participated in the construction.

Enhancing Rural and Remote Medical Intervention Training

With 60 percent of Zambia’s 16 million people living in rural or remote areas, training villagers with basic medical emergency intervention methods has the potential to help save many lives.

Lack of skilled healthcare workers and quality facilities in rural and remote areas inspired community-based intervention training services, such as the formation of Safe Motherhood Action Groups (SMAGs).

SMAGs are groups implemented in rural and remote communities which are comprised of a variety of community health volunteers. These volunteers include birth attendants, health committees and community members specially trained to identify danger signs and encourage women to attend healthcare services. Such groups are supported and implemented by Health for the Poorest Population (HPP), the Ministry of Community Development, Maternal and Child Health in Zambia and UNICEF.

Increasing Healthcare Workforce Training and Resources for Preventing Diseases and Early Deaths

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) works with the Zambian Ministry of Health to strengthen the healthcare in Zambia. One such method is through the USAID Systems for Better Health, which is a training program that has produced over 1,600 new healthcare workers so far. Support from USAID for improving Zambian healthcare systems includes mentoring, supplying financial services and providing supply-chain management.

The U.S. government and USAID also support several programs combatting diseases in Zambia, such as is its efforts to control and prevent HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.

The United States President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) helped Zambians reduce their death rate from malaria by over 30 percent by providing access to test-kits, life-saving medicines, insecticide-treated bed nets and residual spraying availability. USAID has also implemented updated technology and training for local healthcare workers to detect and treat a high prevalence of HIV and tuberculosis cases in Zambia.

Also through USAID’s efforts supporting improvements of healthcare in Zambia, infant mortality rate dropped by 36 percent between 2007 and 2014. Safe high-quality birthing services are increasing throughout Zambia through various programs including Saving Mothers and Giving Life. USAID assists by providing equipment, improving supply chains, strengthening links, training caregivers and educating community members.

Free Higher Education Books

With a 63 percent adult literacy rate and 51 percent of Zambians completing at least some secondary schooling, free higher education books (including medical textbooks) are helping to improve healthcare in Zambia by providing greater access to better-quality education.

Book Aid International is a non-profit organization based in London, England that distributes free up-to-date textbooks to universities, training institutions, libraries, clinics and hospitals in areas where people can’t afford books, such as Zambia. Book Aid International is often the sole supporter of many African libraries.

Improving Healthcare in Zambia, and Worldwide

One of the organization’s motivations to supply free higher education books is to improve healthcare worldwide. Book Aid International declares: “Access to accurate, reliable information is absolutely crucial in order to deliver medical care and health education, yet around the world, people cannot afford the books they need.”

In 2017, Book Aid International donated over 65,000 books to Zambians. With 42 percent of Zambians living on less than $2 per day, free books are a welcome and needed route for developing improved healthcare in Zambia. With assistance from international collaborations, Zambia’s healthcare has vastly improved throughout the country, and the nation’s future looks brighter than ever.

– Emme Leigh
Photo: Flickr

fostering academic growth in AfricaThe U.N. states that there are 48 million illiterate young people in sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, 60 percent of children aged 15 to 17 are not enrolled in schools. Book Aid International has made it its mission to change this by fostering academic growth in Africa.


Education for All

One of the major U.N. Millenium Development goals was to have all school children complete primary level education by 2015. Although this was not achieved universally, there have still been several accomplishments in the sphere of education, and there are more children in schools now than ever before.

The U.N. reports that, from 2000 to 2015, enrollment in primary education rose from 83 percent to 91 percent. Additionally, the literacy rate among youth aged 15 to 24 skyrocketed from 83 percent to 91 percent between 1990 and 2015. One nonprofit located in the U.K., Book Aid International, can be accredited for helping the U.N. achieve these goals.


The Gateway to Knowledge

Book Aid International is a firm believer that the gateway to knowledge is through reading. Access to information can prevent children from falling into poverty, increase future job opportunities and improve their life expectancy past the age of five by 50 percent. As a result, Book Aid International has developed a program revolved around the power of books called Inspiring Readers.

Inspiring Readers donates books to schools in Africa where resource scarcity is a major issue. Through this program, schools receive a library of 1,250 new books and selected teachers from the schools receive specialized training to ensure that the books will be well utilized. Inspiring Readers also ensures that each school gets further resources and assistance by partnering up with a local library.

The program has already seen success. One particular Kenyan school that partnered with Book Aid International has received recognition from the community for improved student academic performance. The school stated in 2017 that students’ test scores have improved from 48 percent to 54 percent in Kiswahili, 48 percent to 50 percent in English and 45 percent to 52 percent in science.


Fostering Academic Growth in Africa

Overall, Inspiring Readers has brought 63,710 books to 50 schools around Africa. The organization has also trained 150 teachers and 20 librarians. Consequently, 31,343 children have been impacted by this program. However, Book Aid International does not want to stop there. Its goal is to reach 250,000 children by 2020.

Book Aid International estimates that it needs £2,600 per school to achieve this goal. There are many ways to help the nonprofit meet this goal, but it relies mostly on donations for funding. Small amounts of money can make a huge difference, as Book Aid International indicates it only costs £2 to send one book to a partnering school. The organization also accepts donations of new books.

Book Aid International has already made huge strides forward in fostering academic growth in Africa, nurturing children’s interests in reading as well as training teachers to become better motivators and instructors. This will only lead children to success and will ultimately help the U.N. in accomplishing its goal of education for all.

– Mary McCarthy

Photo: Flickr

Global Book Distribution Organizations
Global literacy rates have risen in recent years, with adult literacy at 84.1 percent and the youth rate at 89.5 percent. Roughly 896.7 million people cannot read or write. Two-thirds of these people are female, and a majority live in sub-Saharan Africa and southwest Asia. Reading and writing skills are valuable for continuing education and defeating poverty, thus making global book distribution organizations invaluable.

Room to Read’s website shares the chilling statistic: “A child born to a literate mother is twice as likely to survive past age five.” In order to improve global education and literacy, a plethora of organizations have emerged to provide books to disadvantaged areas. These global book distribution organizations are all working to raise literacy with unique approaches to best serve their target community.

1. Book Bus
The Book Bus was started by publisher Tom Mascher in 2008. The program began in Zambia but has since grown to Malawi and Ecuador. It emphasizes providing relevant books to both the age and reading level of its recipient. It delivers books and directly teaches children as well. Mobility is a huge asset to this program; because literacy rates are lowest in remote areas, the Book Bus can travel to disadvantaged communities and schools.

2. International Book Bank
This organization is more academic than many of the other global book distribution organizations. The International Book Bank supplies large quantities of new, single title books for classroom use to improve global education. Since its first shipment to Jamaica three decades ago, it has sent books for every age group all over the world. By allowing communities to choose the books they need, and providing enough copies for the entire class, the International Book Bank ensures that schools have the appropriate resources.

3. Book Aid International
Book Aid International has been around since Lady Ranfurly set up a library in the Bahamas in 1954. She continued the program in the U.K., where it grew to send books to more countries. Currently, Book Aid International provides books for education establishments, refugee camps, prisons and libraries in Palestinian territories and twelve African countries. For nomadic people, the organization has built mobile libraries. It has reading materials and spaces that can be transported via truck, camel or horseback.

4. Room to Read
In 2000, Room to Read began delivering donated books to rural Nepalese communities. Over the last 16 years, the program has expanded to building schools and libraries, training teachers, and supporting girls’ education. It works in eight countries and publishs books in local languages. In 2012 alone, Room to Read’s libraries supplied 9.7 million books.

5. International Book Project
The International Book Project is based in Lexington, KY and ships all over the world. It sends boxes of books any size between small shipments and sea containers that can supply an entire school district. In 2007, it launched a unique program called “Books as Bridges”  where schools in Kentucky are paired with schools overseas. Students exchange letters, packages and books to improve both writing skills and cultural awareness. The last school year had 50 participating classrooms from seven countries, with a total of 2,694 students.

6. African Library Project
The African Library Project ships American books to Africa. It matches communities on either end through a substantial network of organizations. U.S. institutions then gather books and funds to start a library. They emphasize sustainability by recycling used books and supporting the new libraries abroad. To accomplish this, libraries are built in places where the community has the manpower, space and enthusiasm to start a library and receives regular check-ups by African partners. This project has started 1,825 libraries in 12 countries.

7. World Literacy Foundation
The World Literacy Foundation has been focused on book distribution since their founding in 1996. Recently, it has increased digital learning as people have more access to technology. On the website, its noble vision is stated simply: “We envision a world in which every one of us can read and write, in which there is free access to education for all.”

While there is still much to be done, these seven global book distribution organizations are making massive impacts on global education.

Jeanette I. Burke

Photo: Pixabay