Mobile Libraries mean access to books and foundational literacy for hundreds of children in rural Ethiopian communities.
Using horses and a dynamic storyteller, our approach to reaching children in rural areas is truly innovative. We piloted donkey libraries but the cost of animal maintenance and the cumbersome nature of the library cart prevented it from reaching truly rural areas. Our recent evaluations have shown the horse-powered literacy program to be most effective in reaching children in communities inaccessible by car or motorbike, thus furthering Ethiopia Read's mission to reach all children with the power of reading.
Horse-Powered Literacy (HPL) puts books into the hands of kids who literally have never held a book before. For a few precious hours, kids are relieved of tending their cattle or fetching water to expand their minds with the power of words.
The Horse-Powered Library follows a circuit from village to village bringing books to eager children. The horse is tethered underneath a large tree, and children are encouraged to gather nearby. The HPL facilitator will often distribute books to the children, read them a story and teach letters and numbers to help the children learn to read and write. When the session is over, everything is packed up and the Horse-Powered Library is off to the next reading site.
In the Kembata-Tembaro region of southern Ethiopia, our HPL facilitator is reading enthusiast, Legesse Enjero. A child born into a large family, Legesse was unable to attend school as the closest one was three hours from his home. Furthermore, his parents, both farmers, needed Legese to help them with farming in the fields.
As an adult, Legesse was determined that his own children and others should have the opportunity to read, write, sing, and understand mathematics - so he taught them and made sure to provide basic literacy and numeracy to young children in his native village of Kololo.
Once Ethiopia Reads built the Kololo’s first school in 2011, Legesse was recruited by Ethiopia Reads to lead outreach into surrounding villages. The model is simple: a trained teacher on horseback, with saddle bags filled with books, pencils, and exercise books.
“I decided to help these children because they are in the same position that I was,” Legesse says. ‘With this program we reach over 1,000 students in rural villages.”
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