School closures and the suspension of education programmes
The spread of Coronavirus not only led to the closure of schools but also affected several other areas of education. Community libraries in the EduSpots network were closed, and the Ghana Library Authority has directed all public libraries to be closed. Our educational programmes were also suspended, all in an attempt to control the spread of COVID19.
What can we do while schools and libraries are closed?
The closure of schools and regulations on movements meant that our education team is unable to visit communities to deliver in-person training sessions. Giving that there was no certainty on when things would return to normal, there was a need to explore alternatives. The six-week training series, dubbed ‘Giving your project a flying start’ aimed to equip volunteers with knowledge and skills to make community libraries a vibrant learning space.
Details on the virtual training
The one-hour sessions were held weekly on Fridays for six weeks and recorded average participation of 16 volunteers per session.
The first session on basic library operations, explored systems and structures to ensure smooth library management. The second session investigated ways to get diverse community stakeholders involved in the project, recruit and equip volunteers to lead educational initiatives while they develop their skills. In the next week, the team discussed how to create and lead impactful educational clubs.
The next couple of sessions focused on strategies for engaging early year pupils in reading and being proactive with child protection. The virtual sessions ended on with ways volunteers can ensure their physical and mental wellbeing. All sessions had various group activities and encouraged discussion among participants.
Some network members could not partake in the training sessions for some reasons. The organization supported some catalysts to offset the cost of data. However, many catalysts did not have the technology (smartphones or computers) to participate in the virtual training sessions and were unfortunately left out as a result. Unstable internet connectivity also affected the participation of some catalysts. We look forward to working with our partners and supporters to increase access to computers at our key spots and consider ways to make subsequent sessions more accessible.
Commenting on the training sessions, some participants had this to say:
‘As someone with little knowledge of library management, I find the first session insightful and empowering, and I have a fair idea on how to manage the library space.’
‘The sessions were lively, interactive and insightful, I am glad I took part in it and I have learnt a lot to improve my project.’
“With different activities to suit varying learning styles, the sessions were has given me applicable tips on recruiting, retaining and developing volunteers.”
‘I enjoyed the sessions and feel prepared to do more for my project.”
As part of our wider work, we look forward to harnessing technology in different ways to deliver some sessions even after this period, and hope to be able to increase access to technological devices across the network.