Rural Public School Libraries
Our founding principle is equal access to literacy and knowledge. But in so many places, this dream could not be further from reality.
We develop high-quality, relevant libraries for rural public schools most in need. We believe this is the best way to support literacy, encourage a love of reading and lifelong learning, nurture critical thinking, help teachers, and spread the power of knowledge fairly to marginalized communities. We have brought libraries to students in Amazigh communities of Morocco anxious to learn English and now develop comprehensive libraries for rural public schools in Maasai communities of Kenya.
After ten years of developing libraries, we have seen that a great library can transform a whole school and the lives of thousands of young people, with an impact that will be amplified across generations..
English Libraries in Rural Morocco
Since 2014, through our program Morocco Library Project (MLP) we have developed English libraries in the deserts and mountains of rural Morocco, each one tailored to the needs and interests of motivated students anxious to learn English. We focused on under-privileged Amazigh communities, places that had not had libraries before. Though the settings may be under-resourced, the young people here are so passionate to expand their knowledge and world view. In collaboration with Moroccan high school teachers, we learned about each context and then curated libraries, igniting an explosion of after-school literacy programs at the schools. We also developed libraries for youth centers with the Peace Corps. Our goal is to inspire a love of learning, and for young people in rural Morocco to know they can make a positive difference in this world. In the end, we developed libraries large and small at over 40 rural public schools.
MLP has now evolved to a nationwide Short Story Competition for teens in Morocco, with a published anthology each year. These books go back into the Moroccan libraries and are shared with young counterparts abroad.
"I have taken part in many interesting English Language Teaching programs nationwide. Morocco Library Project, though, is exceptionally different; its impact can be felt in our students’ mindset and behavior. MLP’s impact has gone beyond improving English to boosting students’ critical thinking, creativity, self-confidence, and motivation. MLP to me is that abundant source of hope, inspiration, and love. Students from underserved areas are giving more importance to reading as the real engine of change."
~Ali Amhal, Biougra, Morocco
English teacher, Ibn Sina High School
Founder of the Access Language Center
Rural School Libraries in Maasai Mara, Kenya
We expanded to Kenya in 2017 with our Mara School Libraries Initiative, beginning at Mara Girls Leadership School and then moving on to the neediest public schools in the Maasai Mara, both primary and secondary. The need here is so urgent, as we found that no public school had anything like a library or other resources for enriched learning. We take a holistic approach, providing curriculum enrichment texts requested by the teachers for every subject and level, along with story books in English and Kiswahili to meet our own objective of inspiring a culture of reading. We aim to put these rural Maasai students in parity with their counterparts at privileged private schools, meeting our goal of fair, equal access to high-quality education and opportunities for a brighter future.
Each library has 2000 books, laptops, and (for primary schools) games and puzzles, and we partner with Wildlife Clubs of Kenya to include a Conservation Corner with learning materials on local flora, fauna, and current environmental topics. We run capacity-building workshops to train teachers and students on maintaining their library and on creating programs that will inspire the next generation to read, learn, and grow.