By Nanjinia Wamuswa
The notion that Kenya not a reading nation and that Kenyans read only to pass exams, was an insult to university lecturer Joseph Muleka to the extent that he chose change the trend.
Dr Muleka couldn’t imagine future prospects of school children who only read to get good grades in class. So, he initiated a library project to nurture reading culture amongst pupils. He says he chose his Busia County to pilot the project.
“When I started Mundika Library project, last year, I didn’t know it would pick so fast, especially after I chose a library of materials not taught in class,” he says.
“I started project of reading material outside classroom totally aware of claims of students reading only to pass exams. I wanted to break from normal reading to pass exams rule, and initiate reading for fun. This develops reading culture along the way,” adds Muleka.
The project, which targets primary pupils – Class Three to Eight – has received “amazing” support and interest, a year later. Thousands of pupils in Western Province have flocked his facility to the extent that he now fears his limited resources won’t satisfy the demand.
The library is stocked with storybooks and religious materials. A panel of teachers agree on books that suit various classes.
Surprisingly, Muleka says his library project was an afterthought. While in his Busia rural home, Muleka says, he realised poor children lack exposure, a crucial part of intellectual development. It could also be one of the reasons that affect their general performance, he says.
“I have wide experience in education and know that exposure – visiting places, learning new things and interacting with others – play important role in children development,” he adds.
With this in mind Muleka started a children forum that involved singing, drama and sports in the neighbourhood. Children also did community work, visiting and helping the needy and aged members of the society.