Who we are
ZimLibrary is a subsidiary under Paruware Trust which is a locally registered Trust. At ZimLibrary, we vowed to make every child in Ruwa get access to books to read so as to improve their reading and ultimately their grades and chances of success in life. In the 3 years we have been operating, we have directly reached out to at least 3,500 children each year and significantly improved the reading skills of at least 300 children. 60% of these children improved their academic performance from being ranked at the bottom of the class to being in the top 20%.
ZimLibrary provides access to books to the whole of Zimbabwe. We provide door to door delivery of books and mobile library services as well as the physical space to people in Ruwa town and surroundings. We also support children to improve their reading skills through the reading clubs and the peer tutoring program. To ensure every child has access to books in Zimbabwe. Access to reading materials is the key, not necessarily ownership of books
Here’s what we know for sure: According to Marcelo M Giugale, the Director of Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction programs for Africa at the World Bank in his book “Economic Development: What everyone needs to know” (2014), “If by the end of second grade she cannot read at least sixty words per minute, it is almost certain that she will not finish sixth grade on time- in turn a sure predictor of whether she will ever go to college. What’s so magic about reading sixty words per minute when you are a 7- year old? At slower reading speed you lose the meaning of the sentence. In other words, if you can’t read that fast you cannot learn.”
The value of reading skills at an early age is well known. A good reader is able to understand any other subjects taught and in turn improve their academic skills. In many countries in Africa, education is one of the surest ways of having a hope of escaping the poverty cycle at a later stage. Zimbabwe has in the past been regarded as one of the literate nations in sub Saharan Africa. However the socio-economic and political challenges over the last 13 years has seen an erosion of most development that had occurred since independence.
In July 2014, we conducted a needs assessment to see whether a library was needed and would be feasible to set up, in Ruwa. There was an overwhelming positive response. ZimLibrary opened its doors to the Ruwa community on Friday 26 September 2014. We conducted baselines with 100 interested children in 3 schools, by giving them a 60 worded passage at their level and timing their reading. Their ages ranged from 7 years to 11 years (grade 2 to 4). To our surprise, only 58% could read the passage in under a minute while the others took longer. Their comprehension skills were poor and they did not understand the meanings of words. This was a sobering reality.
According to the last census, Ruwa urban, a town in Mashonaland East province of Zimbabwe, has a population of about 56 678 people. There is no public library in the town. Out of the current 6 government schools in the town, which serve a majority of the children, none has a functioning school library. Some have a limited number of textbooks and few story books. This is a common trend in many of the government and some private schools across the country. ZimLibrary is therefore filling a critical gap in terms of access to books.