Our Commitment to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's)
Illiteracy is considered one of the root causes of poverty.
2 in 5 children living in poverty who do finish primary school have not learned how to read, write or do simple arithmetic and over 124 million children are out of primary education as we speak (Unicef), this is in part because of the dearth of resources in primary education, the lack of suitably qualified teachers and precedence placed on a quality education by families living in poverty, where children are often taken out of school to help with subsistence farming, earning livelihoods, child labour or helping raise younger siblings, preparing food, early marriage and carrying water. Whilst this paints a bleak picture, hope rests in educating those in education, and enabling them to realise the value of learning. Paramount to this is high quality resources.
Ihezie Foundation Book Relief donates primary, secondary and higher education text books including subjects like medicine, law, sciences, mathematics, English, at each stage of learning from Primary School to University. We donate books that are checked for:
Relevance to the curriculum in the countries in which we intend to donate
Separated into ages and stages, and donated to appropriate levels of schooling
No older than 3 years old, in any fast moving subject matter, such as Computing, Medicine, Law, or sciences.
We particularly target West Africa, because by in large countries in West Africa are often not prioritised nor have a presence of other INGO's. We particularly target countries who are fragile states and high conflict zones, because we think it is mission critical to ensure children have continuing access to education even in political and socially unstable contexts.
We source books ethically and sustainably working with leading UK book retailers and resellers, receiving book donations of excess book stock from book sellers.
Unlike many charities, we are not donating poor quality 'cast off' books. Headteachers tell us that books they receive from other charities with similar purposes donate books that are worn out with pages falling out, poorly suited to children's learning (for example charities donating early years books to a secondary provision!). In our view this is shifting paper waste unethically to a developing country less equipped to utilise it, and wastes time and energy on behalf of both charities and their recipient schools.
We process over 1.8million books a year of which only 1 million will pass our high quality grading system and sort them, and recycle around 800,000 books a year through paper pulp processing. We ensure that we encourage responsible supply of books which schools are hugely grateful for. Our grading system makes sure they are a)relevant to their intended educational destination b) not missing any pages, or defaced in any way c) are not aged beyond their useful life. Each book is individually inspected for quality by staff and volunteers. We do not donate poorer quality books and headteachers have shared with us the overall negative impact such programmes operated by other book charities has had.
Books are to education, what the brain is to humans.
Books are key to a quality education. Ihezie Foundation often gets asked if books will be replaced by digital learning in the future. Half of secondary schools in sub-Saharan Africa do not have power, Only 4% of schools in Sierra Leone have power, and no schools in Sierra Leone currently have internet access, and just 34% of schools overall have access to power across the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa. In Liberia, 0% of schools have access to computers, whilst across Sub-Saharan Africa just 23% of schools overall in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to computers. There is a huge need for educational infrastructure before digital learning projects can be successful (requiring power, internet and computers!), what's more, with poorly trained teachers from across the countries we work, there is little evidence that equipping teachers with Ipads or computers leads to a higher quality education without accompanying teacher training programmes.
Books are instantly available without layers of other infrastructure which would cost billions to put in place even for just one country sitting at the bottom of the Human Development Index. Books are key to knowledge transfer and acquisition, and without them children will only grow as intelligent as their teachers..
Books shape our lives. From indulging our hobbies and interests, to learning a particular skill that will one day become the one we sell in return for a wage, to instilling values, faith and community, belonging and inspiration. It is hard to imagine a quality education without books and the way in which they irrevocably transform and enrich our lives.
The Education for All Global Monitoring Report estimates that 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty if all pupils left school with basic reading skills, but we would go beyond that and say reading is critical to being able to join a global workplace, increase earning potential, and fulfill development needs of a country. Repeatedly, countries that have invested heavily in education of their children have been lifted into becoming a much better developed nation, with increased GDP, and a growing economy.