About Ethiopia Reads
Founded in 1998, Ethiopia Reads has been a leader in building youth and children’s literacy across Ethiopia. Our first library was established in 2003, and since that time ER has built more than 72 libraries spanning every region of the country, shipping more than a quarter million books and serving over 130,000 children per year. ER supplies books, library furniture, and critical librarian training, mentoring and networking to library staff – most of whom work in school-based environments.
The most effective literacy campaign works across a broad front. ER has been very successful in diversifying its methods over the years. With over a decade of experience on the ground, ER has developed a full spectrum of literacy-centered activities and services: access to books and language-appropriate materials; access to classrooms and libraries; professional training and mentorship; advocacy for book-centered learning and good reading practices; outreach into the most marginalized communities, both rural and urban; and family literacy and literacy awareness campaigns.
In Ethiopia, one of the biggest obstacles to literacy development is lack of reading materials for children in native languages. ER has stepped in with an effort to develop story books for children in several major Ethiopian languages. The organization has also begun collecting a bibliography of children’s literature in Ethiopia, historical and current.
Ethiopia Reads has built libraries where there was previously no access to libraries, most often partnering with schools to establish libraries for their students. Where there were no primary schools, ER has built them. The organization currently operates four of its own kindergartens and K-4 schools as models of best practices, with encompassing roughly 850 enrolled children at any given time.
Where reading spaces and classrooms are available, there is still a pressing need for training and professional dialogue, so that reading instruction is effective. Only ten years ago, education efforts in Ethiopia were focused on building schools. Now the attention is on what happens inside those new building – we need to focus on quality.
Recently, Ethiopia Reads was recognized as an official Honoree at the Library of Congress’ 2016 Literacy Awards ceremony held in Washington D.C. on October 27th, 2016. The Library of Congress Literacy Awards honor organizations working to promote literacy and reading in the United States and worldwide. The awards recognize groups doing exemplary, innovative and replicable work, and they spotlight the need for the global community to unite in striving for universal literacy.
Ethiopia Reads’ vision is to empower and strengthen communities through the art of learning and the science of teaching. Look further into the dreams and ideals that fuel our work.
Ethiopia Reads’ programs are managed by Ethiopians who live and work in Addis Ababa and the regional capital of Hawassa (Awassa). Find out more about the people who work hard for the children every day.
In its short history, Ethiopia Reads has developed from an impassioned idea to bring books and literacy to children throughout Ethiopia to a 21st century model of development Discover the evolution of our organization.
The Book-Centered Learning Program
The Book-Centered Learning (BCL) Program incorporates three elements essential to best practices models: First, ER provides professional training and mentorship on-site, with subsequent follow-up. Second, data is collected according to a rubric designed by a committee of American experts in collaboration with ER staff in Addis Ababa – this data guides the design of final training. The third element goes beyond training to include advocacy efforts, giving a greater voice to teachers and librarians. ER engages with local governments and school administrations to help them understand and appreciate the value of books and educational best practices.Currently, the BCL Program has been implemented in 22 schools across six clusters in Addis Ababa as well as Southern and Eastern Ethiopia.