Magazine article New African

Read a Good Story

Magazine article New African

Read a Good Story

Article excerpt

READ INTERNATIONAL BEGAN LIFE IN 2004 as a small project based at Nottingham University UK, founded by a group of friends and myself. Now there are over 1,000 student volunteers involved, operating from a network of over 50 university sites across the UK and we have sent over a million books to school children in Africa.

We focus our efforts on collecting textbooks and children's literature from secondary schools. We sort them and send the most relevant, up-to-date, and high quality books to schools in East Africa. Any books collected that are not relevant or appropriate to send are sold online or recycled to generate funding.

Tanzania follows a secondary school syllabus almost identical to the UK, but teachers often lack the resources needed to teach. In the UK, newer editions of books inevitably replace the old (very often only a couple of years old though), which makes for good quality, but technically "out of date" textbooks filling up school store rooms or ending up in landfill.

We collect them and send them to where they are really needed, improving access to education to hundreds of thousands of children in East Africa.

READ has grown rapidly since we sent our first shipment of books in 2005. We are also supporting the renovation of dozens of school libraries so that access to books is improved.

By successfully establishing some exciting partnerships, we keep our costs low and efficiency high. One UK company, Big Yellow Self Storage, provides free storage for the books we collect; British Airways provide us with free or discounted flights for all of our volunteers; DHL provides free and discounted logistical support; Veolia are collecting books for us on the streets; and the British Library has developed an electronic book sorting database for us to accurately sort the books we collect. …

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