Chikondi Basikolo – Mana.
Mzuzu University (Mzuni) graduate, Anafi Geofrey is equipping learners with reading skills in their homes due to Corona Virus Disease (COVID 19) in Bolera, Samama and Nasenga areas in Mangochi district through a mobile library.
Geofrey who graduated from Mzuni in 2018, with a Bachelor’s degree in Library and Information Science, said he used to reach the students in schools when schools were open.
He said due to the COVID 19 pandemic, he decided to reach the learners in their respective homes so that they should not lose the reading skills.
He added that he is targeting leaners from standard one to four because these lower classes are crucial for the intellectual development of the learner.
He strongly believes that a strong foundation makes a strong house and that is why he is more interested in the junior classes.
“Previously, I have been reaching about 30 leaners in a day in schools because they were all in one place but since we are now doing it in the homes, I am reaching about 15 learners in a day and this is done every Tuesdays and Thursdays.
He said the target is to reach 150 learners from the three communities, but due to limited resources, so far he has managed to reach 50 leaners with reading materials.
Geofrey said both the learners and their parents have welcomed the initiative wholeheartedly as they are cooperating well.
“It appears most parents understand the importance of keeping their children busy especially during this period when schools are closed,” he said.
Children are allowed to borrow one book for a period of one week and they are given assignments just to make sure that they read the book.
He said the children read the books with the help of their parents or leaners from higher classes and through the assessments.
He said so far there is great improvement in the learners because they are also receiving support from the parents.
He added that the initiative has been a success because a lot of children are keen to read and eager to show off their reading skills.
Despite the success of the initiative he said he faces mobility challenges because he targets mostly hard-to-reach areas and he uses a bicycle with a van full of reading materials.
One of the parents, Aisha Billiat said her child’s reading speed, fluency and comprehension skills have improved.
She added that her child used to struggle a lot when it comes to reading, but now, she is able to read and write without difficulties and she strongly believes that once schools re-open, her performance in school is likely to improve.
“I am thankful to Geofrey for what he is doing to this community. Despite the COVID 19 pandemic, he decided to still reach out to the children in their homes and this is keeping them busy and concentrate more on reading than just playing.
The initiative started in April, 2020 but he has been operating library services in schools since 2018 and he also provides adult literacy programs and children literacy services in the community under the theme ‘My area, my responsibility’.