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Salford academic builds libraries for Ghanaian children

Thursday 13 October 2016

Children in Ghana have been given the chance read thanks to work by a University of Salford academic.

English Literature lecturer Dr Mark Yates, who volunteers as a trustee for the Book Cycle project, visited the country along with the charity which sent a shipping container of 50,000 books to the West African country.

Mark was part of a team who travelled to the Ashanti region of Ghana over the summer where they set up five libraries in primary schools, painting walls and building tables, chairs and shelves which they furnished with books from the container.

The books, which were mainly donated by schools from Wigan, mean youngsters from the country will have a better chance of improving their literacy and gaining employment as previously they only had access to out of date text books.

Meanwhile, the Library at the University of Salford has supported the charity by donating 1,000 science and law text books to Book Cycle.

During their visit, the Book Cycle volunteers also worked with the Enliven Mama Africa Charity to donate sewing machines to mothers, provided clothes to children who had struggled with learning difficulties and met officials from the Ghanaian Ministry of Education to discuss possibilities for future collaboration.

The charity is dedicated to ensuring everyone has access to affordable books and as well as its work in Africa it has helped reopen libraries and set up cheap book shops in Greater Manchester.

Mark said: “As an academic involved in teaching and researching English Literature, my working life has been based around a love of books and an appreciation of the social as well as educational benefits that come with reading, and I got involved with the charity because I feel very passionately that everyone should have access to books.

“Visiting the country, physically building these libraries and seeing first-hand the difference this makes was a huge opportunity and was eye-opening on so many levels.

“Without Book Cycle’s input, children in Ghana would be restricted to very few books—primarily dated text-books—and these children would struggle to improve their literacy. By improving their literacy, Ghanaian children can open the door to a better future, improving their chances of gaining both employment and further education.”