IBBY-Yamada 2016: Zimbabwe

Developing a reading culture

Although Zimbabwe has a relatively high literacy rate this has not translated into better opportunities for young people; they remain in some ways “ignorant” or “uneducated”. There is a lack of a reading culture that would encourage a circle of better, more relevant books, more interest from publishers, librarians and government and more interest and engagement from young people. IBBY Zimbabwe has created pilot reading centres in selected high density residential areas in urban settings with disadvantaged families. 

Tariro School is a community school in the Hopley Settlement, an informal residential area in Greater Harare. This settlement is populated by squatter families who have relocated from other areas, where the children and young people have not had a stable, normal life but have nonetheless a thirst for reading, knowledge and education. "Reading clinics" were launched at the school in June 2016 and followed up by reading classes at the school and at the Harare City library. The readings and discussions showed the possibilities of stimulating reason and imagination in the children and young people. They also exposed the relative lack of up-to-date literature that captures and sustains the reading interest of the young. The books in the libraries were dated and mostly written outside Zimbabwe or Africa.