“This is very good, we have been longing and praying for a library and finally our prayers have been answered. Thank you very much GE volunteers and Start-a-Library for the gift of books.’’ - Teacher Librarian

The pupils of Bohra Primary School had a very hard time finding something to read at home or at school. At home, in the slums of Uthiru and Kangemi, most people didn't see the value in reading. Parents were also too busy to nurture a reading culture in their children. At school there were very few books to go around. Even though there were library lessons in the timetable, it was treated as a free lesson and pupils used that time to make noise in class.


Bohra Primary School is a mixed school of close to 400 children located in the middle of residential buildings in the leafy suburb of Muguga Green Drive, Westlands. The interior of the school does not reflect it's surroundings. The classes are small and are all grouped together on one end of the expansive field, which is very dusty with small clumps of dried up grass.

Bohra Primary School celebrated the 50th anniversary of World Literacy Day on 8 September 2016 with the rest of the world through the launch of a mobile library. This was made possible through the partnership of Start-a-Library and GE. The launch ceremony was attended by GE volunteers, school management, parents, pupils, Storymoja representatives and other invited guests. It was an occassion where the pupils were introduced to the concept of reading for pleasure and the limitless possibilities that would create for them. We also showed them how to bring stories to life by engaging them in various reading promotion activities, like storytelling, read aloud and spelling bee competitions.


The mobile library is a book box with wheels filled with 1000 books that can be moved from one location to another. It can also fit in very tight spaces, as is the case with Bohra Primary School. During library lessons, the mobile library is moved from the staff room to the class where the pupils choose their favorite books to read.The pupils have also taken it upon themselves to go beyond just reading. They have divided themselves into groups of ten where they choose one book and read it together. They also engage in read aloud and compete in spelling bee competitions and debates within the groups. They usually meet at the field after class to conduct their meetings. This ensures that the slow readers catch up with the others. They write down the lessons they learn in old exercise books which they cut into half and share among themselves. Unfortunately, many of the books end up too tattered to help anyone and also get lost.

The academic performance across all the subjects has been steadily going up, with the languages alone going up by 15%. This is largely due to the fact that as the pupils read more, they can easily understand the language of instruction, which is English and Swahili. Answering questions correctly in exams therefore becomes very easy. Due to this, parents have also started becoming very involved by constantly asking their children about the stories they're reading in the library and even making time to come and read with them. In addition to a library, Bohra Primary School has also received a donation of 150 textbooks from Pace International.


The library has also become the envy of the pupils of Muguga Green Primary School, which is just 500 metres away. The literacy level in the school is quite low because the pupils have no books to read. As Start-a-Library, we have done an assessment of the school and determined that the pupils have a thirst for creativity and imagination which can only be quenched by our books in their school. We are currently fundraising and asking well-wishers to contribute to give these children the priceless gift of a library.

As Start-a-Library, we are continuously trying to respond to the needs of the children we interact with. We are in the process of introducing book club diaries in schools where the pupils can keep a record of how many books they read and what they have learned. We are looking to work together with our partners and other stakeholders to make this dream a reality.

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