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Lights and Literacy

By Pheona Nakishero

Among the many uses of electricity, it has become essential for learning during the COVID 19 pandemic. Children in the early grade classes still remain out of school. Access to radio or television for continued learning is a blurry concept for many rural children.

By 2019 only 41.3% of Ugandans nationwide had access to electricity. Out of the 44.27 million population, 33.4 million people live in rural areas. Only 8% of the rural population had access to the national electricity grid by 2018.  

While out of school, children spend their day in the garden, fetching water from a distance, playing, and doing other essential household chores. This situation is likely to increase the already existing rural-urban education inequality gap and eventually have a similar trend on income inequality. To create awareness about community libraries and the possibility of harnessing them for continued learning, the enjuba team has regular interaction with rural communities to promote reading.  

Proper use of community libraries for children can only be made possible with combined support and effort from guardians. They would have to allow the children to go to these libraries to access reading material and be comfortable enough to carry books back home to read with their caretakers. 

On May 5th 2021, the teams from enjuba and Let There be Light International spent the day at Zinunula Community Library reading with the children of Lusera village and interacting with their parents. 

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67% of the parents who attended said their children did not have access to reading materials during the lockdown of schools due to COVID 19. Only 17% had made use of Zinunula library in their community before the community reading day event. On this particular day, all children and parents received books and solar lights to take back home. When they interviewed some of the children who received solar lights, this is what they had to say; 

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Nawenge Daniella - 8yrs old

"She stays with her grandmother in Lusera village. She could not read her books at night because they were using a kerosene lamp. With a solar light now, she is excited to read her books even at night." 

Ikoro Roda is aged 9yrs old

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"She goes to school in primary three and lives with her grandmother Ms Roda Tibaru in Lusera. She was happy about her solar light since they were using a kerosene lamp at home." 

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Ashraf - 5yrs old - "He lives with his mother, father, and his little brother at home. He was happy to receive his light. Since they are not yet back at school, his mother will use the light to teach him at night."