Project information

Reader Today, Leader Tomorrow

Access to books and support for literacy skills are among the most basic foundations of education for children. School Aid develops libraries and creates an environment where children are welcomed into reading and encouraged to develop their skills in a safe and stimulating space.

February 2017 - December 2017

Charity information

School Aid

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  • Need


    In Lesotho and South Africa over 30% of children don't learn to read fluently, rising to 48% in Malawi. 60% of South African children can't read at age 10. Libraries are rare. Developing a new reading culture takes time and it will only happen with support and encouragement until it is government funded across all state schools. “These children will never fully engage with the curriculum and will fall further... behind even as they are promoted to higher grades,” says a 2016 university report.


    We'll open a new S African library full of age-appropriate books offering children in disadvantaged schools a safe and stimulating environment to enjoy reading and improve literacy skills. We'll run school Reading Clubs in Malawi, Lesotho and S Africa with weekly supported reading and literacy activities. The availability of reading materials and assisted reading is the start of a culture of reading in childhood, leading to improved achievement across the whole school curriculum

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Enable 2,500 children in Malawi, Lesotho & S Africa to improve literacy skills & life opportunities


    » Open a new school library in South Africa
    » Launch and run 14 Reading Clubs in S Africa, Lesotho and Malawi
    » Source, sort and ship 10,000 high-quality school library books

    Reports show increasing numbers of children visiting the library, regularly taking books home, and attending Reading Clubs. Reading Club assessments show improved reading skills.

    Aim 2

    Establish sustainable community resources for the future education of thousands of children


    » Recruit and train a local Library Assistant in South Africa
    » Develop Reading Officers’ outreach roles in Malawi and Lesotho
    » Train and mentor teachers and volunteers to run literacy activities in schools and libraries

    Reports show increasing numbers of children visiting the library,and attending Reading Clubs. Increasing numbers of schools will launch Reading Clubs

  • Impact


    The ability to read is a long-term investment in the future of children. Our goal is to establish community resources that can influence all aspects of a pupil’s education. This brings change through increased literacy levels, improved exam pass rates, and more children staying in school to finish education. The long-term benefit is better educated people who strengthen their communities because they are able to learn, work and contribute.


    There is risk of funding shortfall but School Aid has a varied funding stream for reliability. There is a risk in change of personnel in Africa for training and recruitment, but we are well -supported with a local team at School Aid South Africa. There are also some risks in the resource shipment process of delays but School Aid’s experienced network is very knowledgeable about this route and has partners in place for support.


    Donors will receive letters and regular reports of project progress via newsletters and social media.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £24,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £7,500 Library refurbishment Repairs, electrics, security, shelving, decoration
      £2,100 IT Computer equipment and 'Libwin' library software
      £2,600 Books Sourcing, sorting, packing of 10,000 books
      £1,500 Volunteer support and training Training and expenses for Library Assistant in South Africa
      £8,000 Literacy Activities Outreach Reading Officers' costs in Malawi and Lesotho, Library Project Manager in South Africa
      £2,300 Project Management Library and Reading Club administration, Project liaison UK and Africa, monitoring and evaluation
  • Background


    The legacy of apartheid has left education in S Africa in disrepair. Townships by Jo'burg are vastly overcrowded. Youth unemployment is near the highest in the world at 50%. Malawi, one of the poorest countries on earth, struggles with underdevelopment and natural disasters. 50% of children who start school do not finish. In the mountainous and rural kingdom of Lesotho, 33% of children are orphans or vulnerable children. Primary education is free but 50% of people live below the poverty line.


    Initially in 2017 2,500 African children in schools will directly benefit where the library and Reading Clubs are developed, their siblings and families, the trained Reading Assistants. In the longer term many more children will have access to literacy activities and books year-on-year, as well as the wider community who will benefit from improved educational opportunities.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Founded in 1998 School Aid supports the education of over 60,000 African children each year in Lesotho, Tanzania, Malawi and S Africa. It has placed 866,500 books in over 800 disadvantaged schools. Since 2012 it also develops libraries and trains local volunteers and educators to help children improve literacy skills. School Aid’s staff, volunteers and NGO partnerships ensure that resources are used effectively to improve literacy and the quality of education, and give children a better future.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Janis Mowlam

    Chairman of School Aid and Founder of School Aid South Africa - She has strategic overview of all programmes and has lived in Malawi and S Africa

    Clare Junak

    General Manager - UK-based, she heads the operation and coordinates all African projects and liaison with partners

    Mike Makwela

    S African Project Coordinator - S African-based, he is liaison with schools, recruits and trains Library Assistants, and manages library developments