Donated books for 42,000 children in Malawi

News - International Wednesday, 31st March 2021

Schools around Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve helped by Book Aid International as part of wider programme to support conservation efforts

Staff from conservation non-profit organisation African Parks in Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in Malawi have taken part in a special book handover of Planet Earth II books, thanks to a collaboration with Book Aid International.

The ceremony was part of the larger Reading Around the Reserve programme which has provided, according to the charity: 'over 24,000 brand new books selected to enrich education in 71 schools around Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve.
'Nkhotakota is the oldest and largest reserve in Malawi, spanning 1,794km2 of intact Miombo woodland. Since the Government of Malawi partnered with African Parks in 2015 for its long-term management, Nkhotakota has been transformed – with almost 500 elephants and other wildlife introduced to repopulate the reserve.

'A range of sustainable livelihoods projects are being rolled out, thousands of students are benefitting from the reserve’s educational support and healthcare programmes, and tourism is being reinvigorated to generate revenue, building lasting benefits for the ecosystem and the communities which depend on it.   
'Book Aid International and African Parks’ collaboration is giving over 42,000 students in 71 schools around the reserve access to high quality, carefully selected books in their classrooms to support their learning.

'The programme has also trained 142 local teachers in how to use these books to enrich their classrooms, improving the quality of education that students receive. Precautions were taken to enable the training to be carried out safely online in 2020 despite the pandemic’s impacts.'

Book Aid International Head of Programmes, Samantha Thomas-Chulla, said: "Teacher training is vital to ensuring that books become part of classroom learning and can really support children’s educations. We usually provide a member of our own team to deliver training, but during the pandemic that hasn’t been possible.

"So with the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we developed training videos and offered a 'train the trainer' zoom course for a professional librarian from the Malawi National Library Service. She then went on to train all of the teachers around the reserve, and today those teachers have the skills to help thousands of students discover books and succeed in education."

Included in the Reading Around the Reserve programme are 9,000 Planet Earth II books with a foreword written by David Attenborough. 'These books have been provided to local primary and secondary schools, as well as to Nkhotakota’s Environmental Education Centre. They will also be provided as special prizes for the most talented readers in local schools. Full of beautiful photography from different ecosystems around the world, the books are intended to help nurture a connection between young people and nature.'  
Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve Park Manager Samuel Kamoto said: "The long-term sustainability of this exceptional ecosystem is only possible if local communities truly value it. Education is central to our community development strategy, which is aimed at ensuring people living around the reserve both value and benefit from its existence.

"These wonderful books will help us to show young people here in our communities the significance of the world’s natural heritage, which we have a shared responsibility to protect for future generations to benefit from. We would like to thank players of People’s Postcode Lottery for making this very special book donation possible."
'African Parks and Book Aid International look forward to expanding their joint work in the future with the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery. In 2021, the charities plan to run Reading Around the Reserve in 55 schools surrounding the Bangweulu Wetlands in Zambia, reaching a further 25,000 children. Both charities warmly thank players for their support.'  

Pictured: the Bua River in Nkhotakota (cr Naude Heunis)