Becketwood Cooperative
An Active, Independent 55+ Community of Owners in Minneapolis

9 Books Kenya

by Ann Lovrien, Becketwood Member

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As October leaves changed our surroundings into brilliant reds and golds, Becketwood’s Members had an opportunity to learn about important changes taking place in another beautiful land. Ann Lovrien shared the experiences she had in rural western Kenya, where thousands of children aged three to six are participating in early childhood classes. Ann’s project, called 9 Books Kenya, was begun in 2012 as a partnership of Twin Cities and Kenyan educators.

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In West Karachuonyo Division schools, on a peninsula jutting into Lake Victoria, the 9 Books project brings literacy resources to young children and new teaching strategies to their teachers. Historically, these students from early childhood on have been taught according to the British colonial system, adapted for remote and resource-poor areas by rote learning and memorization. “Call-and-response” techniques were a way to engage young children—even through high school ages—in learning through repeating what their teachers say.

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Their classrooms might have wooden tables and chairs, a chalkboard, student notebooks and pencils but no toys, games, puzzles, art materials, posters, computers or books.  Classrooms for the youngest are typically the poorest in the school, often with dirt floors, small windows letting in little light, and leaky roofs.  9 Books introduces materials and ideas that, in partnership with Kenyan teachers, encourage children to do independent thinking and learning.

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Since 2012, 9 Books Kenya has brought 1,500 picture books, sets of vocabulary cards, and other materials to 98 schools in the area. Ann and her Kenyan partners have presented methods that teach critical thinking and independent analysis, with the use of picture books and open-ended questions. 9 Books returned to Kenya in May 2015 and held workshops for 49 new schools. Previously trained teachers joined the American team in presenting how to use the picture books and vocabulary cards in teaching critical thinking. Early next year 9 Books intends to return with additional books and a second workshop for the latest schools.

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  • David Liddle December 3, 2015, 3:01 pm

    Thanks Ann. Sounds like a great project!

    Reply