Reading is one of the aspects of improving our knowledge that we should embrace regularly. D.E.A.R Day that celebrates this aspect of life. 11th March was Uganda’s D.E.A.R Day as it is celebrated globally on different days. Although we love our dear ones, for the uninitiated, D.E.A.R here stands for “Drop Everything and Read.”
As part of its outreach and giving back to the community programmes through the Kitakule Foundation, Busesa community library alongside Enjuba, a Kampala based children’s reading organization, marked the D.E.A.R Day. Enjuba is a catalytic education organisation focused on improving learning outcomes for children.
Thursday 11th March was a beehive of activities as children engaged in reading and spelling competitions and everyone turned out to be a winner including parents as they all received books courtesy of Enjuba and the Rotary Club of Kampala South. Kitakule Foundation partnered with Enjuba to fundraise for book donations. The Rotary Club of Kampala South came on board to support the fundraising.
William Mukisa, the Enjuba Programmes Director, says since they began, they have gone to schools, carried out spelling competitions and published books. In this case, they reached out to the Busesa library.
“We look for the worst performing schools in the primary leaving examinations. We want to reduce learning poverty, a big problem identified by the World Bank among others,” Mukisa explains.
The World Bank calls on the global community to reduce by at least half the global rate of learning poverty, which is defined as the percentage of 10-year-old children who cannot read and understand a simple story.
Stephen Sooka, the Programme Manager at Kitakule Foundation says due to the Covid19 pandemic, children’s numbers had to be reduced for the event to be carried out well while observing the standard operating procedures. Although a bigger number was expected, only 160 children were invited including 35 parents.
Every child received a book, and some were donated to the library. The books are illustrated. “We want to demystify reading and learning and make it fun,” Mukisa adds.
He says the campaign is for the 4-12 age range. “When they learn while younger, they don’t struggle as they grow older,” Mukisa observes. He says that the book giving campaign runs for 6-8 weeks centered on the D.E.A.R Day every year.
Along the way, Enjuba follows up on the impact of the children’s reading together with the community they partnered with for the campaign. “We partner with community based organisations but it is better when we have people on the ground just like the way we have this library” Mukisa says.
Lizza Marie Kawooya, Enjuba’s Programme Associate says the campaign is annually run from January till D.E.A.R Day. “We don’t want children to read as a way of cramming. We do community outreach approaches. We were in Kaabong in 2018, and then we went to Luuka district afterwards and now Busesa in 2021,” Kawooya explains.
She adds that 900 books were given out including titles “Crash boom splash”, “A boy named Justice” and “Grasshopper and Chapati.” Sooka says the books donated by the Rotary Club in partnership with Enjuba were worth Uganda shs1.85m. Children and their parents later received lunch courtesy of the library and enjoyed the rest of the day reading.
We love reading.
When talked to separately after the day’s event, four children said they really love reading books as they learn new things from such books. They included Rashida Namugaya, 10, Daniel Muwanguzi, 9, Namulondo Natasha, 10- and 10-year-old Nashandira Shanaz.