Literacy Program

The Lions Clubs of Kenya and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) have partnered on a Literacy Program aimed at increase the literacy levels of children

The Lions Clubs of Kenya and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) have partnered on a Literacy Program aimed at increase the literacy levels of children in East Africa.

The initiative is jointly implemented by the Lions Clubs and AKDN in support of the broader efforts of the Governments of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to increase access to quality education and improve learning outcomes. It builds on international research findings showing that children who have been read to before they go to school – and whose family members continue to read to them – are more likely to excel in their future academic studies. Unfortunately in East Africa, the culture of reading for children is not widespread.

The negative impact on learning outcomes is evident; a 2011 survey by UWEZO established that only 28% of Standard Three children in Kenya, 8% in Tanzania and 4% in Uganda had the reading skills required to pass a Standard 2 level English language exam.

Lions Club and the Aga Khan Development Network hope to help reverse this trend by establishing 114 self-sustaining mini-libraries, developing books for children aged between 3-5, increasing awareness among parents and caregivers on the importance of reading for and with their children. The project aims to benefit over 15,000 children and their families in the three East African countries.

While Lions Clubs have the Reading Action Program (RAP), Aga Khan Foundation has the  Reading for Children (RfC) program. Synergy will be established in this joint initiative in selected areas where Lions Clubs exist and surrounding Serena Hotels and in areas where Madrasa Early Childhood Programme (MECP) supports preschools.

This partnership reflects the prioritisation of reading by both Lions Clubs and AKDN. Lions Club’s Reading Action Programme (RAP) campaign   spearheads volunteer action around the world, while a number of AKDN agencies and institutions, including the Aga Khan Foundation, the Aga Khan Schools, the Aga Khan Universities, Industrial Promotion Services (IPS) and Tourism Promotion Services (TPS) are developing a range of inter-linked activities that promote early literacy. The AKDN institutions working with the Lions Clubs are Aga Khan Foundation, Serena Hotels and the Madrasa Early Childhood Programme (MECP)

The partnership will build on existing community service activities by Lions Clubs and the various AKDN agencies. For instance, the Lions Club in East Africa supports a number of health and education facilities with various health and education initiatives (such as the eye and health clinics) through its community service and mobilisation efforts. The Aga Khan Foundation has been implementing its Reading for Children (RfC) programme in East Africa since 2009, establishing mini-libraries in communities and in this way enabling parents, older siblings and other caregivers to borrow simple, illustrated storybooks to read to young children.

The Serena Hotels in East Africa have been supporting schools and communities surrounding the hotels with various education initiatives and have already been working with the Lions Clubs in some of the clinics. On its part, the Aga Khan Foundation’s Madrasa Early Childhood Programme (MECP) selects and trains librarians from within local communities on how to run and maintain the mini-libraries, while Lions Club volunteers visit the facilities to read for and with the children, tell stories and organise and participate in reading contests in the facilities.

The partners in the joint initiative will also take advantage of their internal events – such as Lions eye clinics in schools and communities and education events organised under the Serena Hotels’ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities – to promote reading. They will also participate in important events such as the International Day of the African Child, International Literacy Day among others to further promote a culture of reading for and among children

Click on the icon above to Download Media Advisory

Media Advisory for Literacy Initiative Launch by Lions Club International President on 24 July 2014