Our staff is collaborating with our partners in Kenya, Rongo University and Kibabii University, to bring you updates on the libraries and communities we serve and how they have been affected by the novel coronavirus.

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Joel Wekesa from Rongo University speaks out about how COVID-19 has affected his work and getting books to students.

When the first case was announced in Kenya. All learning institutions were closed abruptly. Since we were not prepared for it, almost everything stopped where it was. We were just finishing releasing K3 books. Actually 6 schools were yet to pick their book. We also had to postpone a teacher-librarian training that we had scheduled for March 26, 2020.

Working from home, we tried to reach out for schools to get acknowledgement and thank you letters. However, this did not yield much. Most teachers have moved to the villages where network coverage is a problem others are out of salary. The majority have requested that they get in touch once things normalize. From the communication, I have had with the teachers. The applications for K4 have been trickling in though very slowly. It’s been three months now and things are picking up slowly.  Hopefully, we will be able to get the activities moving.

What are ways we can encourage children to read even when schools are closed?

For kids to read at home in African set up, there is need to strongly involve their parents who assign them daily chores. Many families in our region spent most of their time with the kids in the farms or in the lake fishing, especially this time of the year. Going forward there is need to emphasize this aspect during the trainings and all activities. We also need to strengthen the lending system, such as allowing pupils borrow books home or ask parents to borrow books on behalf of their children.

Covid-19 has not only affected us but changed almost everything around us. When we open we might need to rethink everything about the project. Some of the things affected now and going forward:

1. Teacher training programs – Social distancing

2. Lending and sharing of books – How do we sanitize books for the users

3. Library spaces – How do we readjust to factor in social distancing

4. Finances – The economic impact to all sectors and players in the project.

List of COVID-19 Resources – Kenya