Here is the Peace Corps Partnership Grant I wrote for Project Amandla, our library project. If you want to fund our project, but want more concrete information about how we plan to implement the project, the background of my community, etc, look no further!
Peace Corps Partnership Program Grant — Project Amandla
Visit Project Amandla on the Peace Corps Website
When a Peace Corps Volunteer asked a grade seven learner, Spheamandla, why there should be a library at school, he wrote: “I haven’t learned that much so I want to be in the library all the time so I can learn many things and achieve my dreams.”
This learner represents the majority in rural South Africa. Rural black schools have limited access to resources like library books – only 7.5 percent of schools in South Africa own library books. Likewise, these students are struggling in school; in 2012, only 15 percent of 12 year-olds scored at or above minimum proficiency (40 percent) in the Department of Education’s national literacy test.
Project Amandla will receive a container of 22,000 English books from the US non-profit, Books for Africa. Thirty rural South African schools and organizations are participating in Project Amandla. Together, the respective communities are dedicated to raising and contributing $6,500 (41 percent of the necessary $16,000) of the shipping costs.
With your help, we can reach our fundraising goal for book shipment and each school or organization will receive 733 books to help build this country for a better, more literate tomorrow.
Describe the background of the community, and what priority this project addresses:
Sixteen of the schools and organizations participating in Project Amandla are within the Nquthu Municipality of KwaZulu-Natal and 14 reside in other areas of KZN, and the Limpopo, Mpumalanga provinces, but all face similar challenges of the Nquthu Municipality.
Nquthu Municipality is home to roughly 165,000 people of Zulu and Sesotho decent, more than 90 percent of whom live in rural communities. South African students learn English as their second language, but have little exposure to English outside of school. Teachers predominately speak isiZulu at school and children live with illiterate guardians who do not speak any English or are orphans. Inevitably, the younger rural generation’s English development suffers — many are up to three reading levels behind the grade they are enrolled in; some are up to five years older than their peers because they are continuously held back due to illiteracy. Many students cannot complete the coursework because they do not have the vocabulary or reading skills to do so, and lack the support at home.
Project Amandla enables these rural communities to develop or enhance libraries; each participant will receive approximately 733 books from the US nonprofit Books for Africa. These books will give students access to grade-level appropriate books and English books of a variety, which will enhance the student’s reading skills and vocabulary and empower them for their futures. All communities are thrilled about Project Amandla because they are dedicated to help their community’s children succeed in school and life, but have few resources to do so.
How is the community the driving force behind this project?
Each school or organization that is participating in Project Amandla submitted an application that was approved PCV Project Coordinators Elizabeth Warden and Katrina Naeve. The application required participants to have a Book Utilization Plan, an identifiable South African counterpart who will be in charge of the Book Utilization Plan and a fundraising plan. The Book Utilization Plan requires that each organization or school has a concrete plan on how the books will be used and a secure room with furniture for them. Some Project Amandla participants already have functioning libraries that are overseen by a South African counterpart but ran by responsible student library monitors. Others will be creating the first libraries at their schools and will incorporate the books into the school’s curriculum, host reading competitions and library opening ceremonies. Likewise, all communities are required to raise 2,000 South African Rand through community donations, school and community event and casual dress Fridays. Thus, all South African counterparts have been active with the process since day one. We also have invested interest from The David Rattray Foundation, a South African educational non-profit that functions within the Nquthu Municipality. Thirteen of the schools participating in this project are also schools that are overseen by the David Rattray Foundation. The David Rattray Foundation works with PCVs in the Nquthu area to help implement and sustain school development projects like libraries. The CEO of the David Rattray Foundation has agreed to donate R26,000 ($2,600 USD) to this project.
Briefly describe the desired outcome of the project:
The mission of Project Amandla is simple and obtainable. We hope that through access to libraries and books, students will practice their English and learn how to read or further their reading skills. If these rural students get more exposure to English vocabulary at school with books that are appropriate for their diverse reading levels, they will be able to speak it and complete all their coursework in English. The easier school gets for these students the more likely they are to pass current classes and later graduate from secondary school, as currently only a third of black students in South Africa do. Those students who pass matric, the grade 12 graduation examination, will have enough skills to move onto university or be employed. Youth unemployment in South Africa is more than 50 percent because many youth, especially in rural areas, dropout of school and are unskilled. Project Amandla can better prepare black rural youth for new opportunities by giving them the power of literacy. Although South Africa has 11 official languages, one must speak English to work in a formal job setting. Each generation in South Africa can work to create equality within this country and build capacity for the next generation through literacy. In the long run, Project Amandla gives these learners who become literate the power to help their siblings and future children in the rural areas, and so on.
Describe the implementation plan that will be used to achieve the goals and objectives of this project. Do you foresee any challenges to the project implementation?
While schools and organizations are fundraising, they have also been asked to fill out a Book List that specifies what types of books and the quantities of suitable books they hope to receive from Books for Africa. Each Project Amandla participant will receive a match or close match to the order. After the 733 books arrive at the schools and organizations, PCVs and a South African who is designated to be responsible for the books will work together to create a library or enhance a school or community library by adding the new books. Project coordinator Elizabeth Warden will distribute library training resources she has written, collected and adapted. These resources teach PCVs and counterparts how to make an accession register for the library books, categorize the books based on subject and reading level and create a student-friendly library organization system for the students. Once the libraries are ready for use, communities will host opening ceremonies and then learners will have access to reading the books at school and checking them out to bring home. Project Amandla participants do not see any challenges that could block any part of the implementation plan because all participants have expressed an immediate need and interest in the project because they took the time to apply and create a Book Utilization Plan. The PCVs involved in the process have designed a delivery plan to distribute the books from a central location. We will be renting a truck and trailer to deliver the books, which is detailed in the budget. This will ensure that the books reach their final destinations in a timely manner.
How will the project contribute to building skills and capacity within the community?
As Project Amandla incorporates 30 schools and organizations, approximately 16,000 of South African learners and 360 teachers will be affected and reap the benefits of the books. Each new school year, approximately 2,000 new learners will come into contact with the library books from Project Amandla, and with a decade, 20,000 or so more learners will have done so. The more exposure learners have to books can only help them succeed in school and expand their English vocabulary and language skills. Children must be motivated at a young age to take ownership of their education before it’s too late, especially if they lack the support at home like those of Project Amandla. Reading books opens up a door to a world of creativity, critical thinking and love for learning that all of these students deserve and need to surpass the South African school system. If students love to read from an early age, they will always deeply care about school and pass that attitude onto their kin or younger family members like a domino effect. Once a learner learns to read and becomes passionate about it, the effects of literacy on his/her future are limitless. These 22,000 books will build the capacity for generations to come – aiding in preparing the older rural children for secondary graduation, employment and university and the younger ones to develop reading skills and a love for learning as soon as they enter school to increase the English pass rate and spoken skill within the participating communities.
How will the community be able to sustain the activities and/or benefits of this project? What is the community’s project after the initial material support has ended?
Project Amandla is guaranteed to be a sustainable project because all it takes is an organized structure to continue operating once the initial material support has ended. After the PCVs and South African counterparts have set up a system for the libraries using their own ideas or resources shared through Project Amandla, they will just need to set a weekly schedule for when the library will be used or the books will circulate throughout the community. The most functional school libraries project coordinator Elizabeth Warden has witnessed in South Africa are run by responsible students and overseen by a South African counterpart. Many of these libraries can attract a group of learners to be “library monitors” to uphold the rules, regulations and organizations of the libraries. If learners play a huge role in operating the library, it will not only attract more learners to the use the books in time and instill a culture of learning, but also create role models for younger learners. The South African Department of Education encourages library use as part of its national reading strategy. Educators are aware of this, but many will not have had the opportunity to incorporate a library into school curriculum until Project Amandla. Those educators involved will spearhead the process of incorporating the library in the school’s every day routine, which is detailed in each school and organization’s Book Utilization Plan.
THANK YOU for reading through this and considering funding our project!