For nearly 30 years, CODE and the International Book Bank (IBB) have worked together to get high-quality North American reading materials into the hands of teachers, librarians and young people in low-income countries. In this last decade, IBB has shipped tens of thousands of books to Liberia alone - titles that were distributed to schools and libraries there by CODE’s Liberian country partner, the WE-CARE Foundation. In the early design stages of CODE’s comprehensive readership program, Reading Liberia, IBB chair and curriculum and instruction expert, Dr. Wendy Saul, travelled several times to that country and worked as an active CODE volunteer in support of teacher and writer development.
During the recent Ebola crisis, CODE and IBB worked together to provide and assemble content for thousands of precious Home School Care Kits of Hope. WE-CARE - with great courage and determination- delivered the kits to quarantined and traumatized children –offering them some escape and even pleasure during this devastating outbreak.
Wendy Saul, Chair of IBB and Scott Walter, ED of CODE signing the MOU in support of Reading Liberia 20/20.
Last summer, in response to shipping challenges and a decrease in the supply of and demand for English books IBB decided to adapt as an organization and support the development of locally produced materials. By shifting its focus from world-wide shipping to a new partnership with CODE and the WE-CARE Foundation, IBB has been able to support the creation and distribution of engaging, indigenous, culturally relevant books.
“CODE and IBB have worked together for more than 25 years supporting communities in their desire and ability to create and sustain literate environments. Working together on Reading Liberia is a fantastic next step in the evolution of our work together.”
– Scott Walter - Executive Director, CODE
IBB is drawing from its years of involvement with the WE-CARE Foundation and contributing funds that will support workshops and professional development. These funds have also been used to distribute books sent by IBB with CODE’s support during the Spring of 2016. Our collective goal is to help build the capacity of Liberian authors, illustrators, graphic designers, editors and WE-CARE itself to produce and publish relevant, quality children’s book long into the future.
Reading Liberia 20/20 also provides high-quality teacher training through a “train the trainer model” of teacher support and capacity building. The program builds upon an existing corps of trainers to continue training and certifying teachers so they can help students get the most out of the books and improve the learning environment.
This will provide students with opportunities for personal growth and the chance to acquire literacy and thinking skills as they become responsible citizens able to contribute to Liberia's economic, political and social growth.
By 2020, Reading Liberia will have supported and nurtured literate environments in 60 schools spread across 5 districts in Bomi, Gand Bassa and Margibi counties. Over 25, 000 Liberian children will be directly impacted and more than 600 teachers and principals will upgrade their qualifications in the teaching of reading and writing skills. In addition, high-quality books (up to 24 titles) that support the national curriculum will be published along with materials to guide teachers in their use. The program will support Liberian authors and illustrators by offering them training in creating books for young people and by compensating them as they contribute to a growing body of culturally authentic reading materials for Liberian children and young adults.
To further advance literacy in Africa, IBB is also exploring ways to promote book exchanges between countries. To facilitate this, it has plans to engage experts in the international publishing community to produce a series of tutorials or webinars, live streamed and as podcasts, that will help demystify the concepts of import licenses, intellectual property rights, translation rights, and permissions which can impede the cross border sharing of books. IBB is also exploring the role and potential use of e-technology in the dissemination of literary and informational texts.