Inside Look: Harar School Book Club

At Ethiopia Reads, we believe that reading culture is more than books. We make a point to train teachers and librarians to use books to best purpose.

But perhaps even more important is the cultivation of enduring institutions in the school community that promote the value of reading and books. It’s all the better if those are student-driven. That’s why we promote book clubs.

Book clubs are an important agenda item in our onsite Book-Centered Learning (BCL) program. We actively lobby for healthy book clubs in schools.

In April, one BCL team visited the Model One Primary School in Harar in Eastern Ethiopia. It is a model school! Sitting in on the meeting – next to the director, the librarian, and teachers – was 14 year-old Seada Jamal, book club coordinator and student of the school.

The Model One book club has 36 members. They help in the library and read to younger children. In return they have extra reading time in the library and the right to borrow books.

But young Seada is far from complacent. She thinks there’s much more the book club could be doing with more support from administration and teachers. The 7th Grader suggested approaching the student parliament to support the club and she also suggested that teachers work with parents to encourage the club and reading in general. School staff in the meeting readily agreed to help -- she was an inspiration!

This is how change happens. We can advise, train, and guide, but ultimately change comes from inside the school. Young people advocating for their own future is the best case. We hope to see book clubs grow in value and versatility. It should be a type of service club, serving a community of readers. And that community can reach well beyond the boundaries of the school.

With student leaders like Seada, we have a great start!