Ematiha Secondary School is a mixed sex day school located in a stunning, hilly area of Kakamega in Western Kenya. The area surrounding the school is home mostly to sugar cane farmers. EPAfrica Project Workers to the school in 2015, when among other things the creation of a functioning library was carried out, were Flora Miles, a Social Anthropology student studying in Cambridge, and Tom Blower, an English graduate from Oxford. Project Workers Rosie Bishop, a Cambridge Geography student, and Robbie Mallett, studying Physics at Oxford, returned to the school in 2016 to carry out yet more successful projects.
Before the project, books were stored on a few poorly constructed shelves in the secretary’s office, and students rarely used or borrowed the books because of the inconvenience of this set up and the absence of a suitable study area. The project was inspired by the observation of this difficult situation and, after meetings with school staff, the agreed-upon suggestion that the spare classroom currently being used to store firewood and broken desks would be better used as a library and study space.
EPAfrica Project Workers in 2015 removed firewood and broken desks from the spare classroom and hired local carpenters to install purpose-built bookshelves, tables, and chairs. They also purchased more than 180 new textbooks and incorporated these into an improved labelling and borrowing system, complete with new folders for the recording of loans and returns of books. Project Workers also worked together with the school to work out an acting librarians system and to incorporate library times into the school’s timetable. Project Workers also purchased new calculators to be stored in the library and used during lesson times.
The impact was most significantly the creation of a space where books could be safely stored and organised and students could easily borrow and return them. The library also constituted a flexible study space for use inside and outside of lesson times, with tables and chairs for individual and group study. Project Workers in 2016, the following year, found the library still secure, well-organised, and used well particularly during lesson times. Ultimately the intention is for this library to greatly facilitate the learning of students through textbooks and other learning resources stored there.