The Kids' Educational Engagement Project (KEEP) has inaugurated its 22nd reading room, valued at US$22,239 at the William Gabriel Kpolleh Public School in New Georgia Estate. The reading room aims to improve students’ reading skills and comprehension.
The inauguration of the reading room, held on Friday, July 9, was graced by KEEP's partner APM Terminals, County Education Officer (CEO) of Montserrado County, District Education Officer (DEO), the school administration and students.
The Executive Director of Kids’ Educational Engagement Project (KEEP), Brenda B. Moore, said the dedication of the Gabriel Kpolleh reading room was an exciting moment for KEEP as it marks the dedication of its 22nd reading room.
“I’m always excited when we dedicate a new reading room because it shows new beginnings, new relationships, new opportunities, but also resilience and tenacity. The completion of these reading rooms climaxes so much hard work and hustle,” Mrs. Moore said.
Mrs. Moore expressed gratitude to APM Terminals for the support that allows KEEP to stand out as a company and give back to the community and society.
Mrs. Moore said after the establishment of KEEP, APM Terminals was one of the first institutions that donated to the organization and it shows a long-standing relationship dating back to 2014 and now in 2021.
“This relationship has transitioned from giving cartoons on paper to now investing US$7,000 in a public school. Every time we call them, they will always come to our aid,” Mrs. Moore said.
She urged the school administration and students not to see the reading room as a donor project but that different people have contributed to make this project a reality.
“We want you to take good care of these books because the reality is the Ministry of Education does not have the capacity at this point in time to do the things KEEP is doing,” Mrs. Moore explained.
According to her, KEEP has three stages of the project, which include the establishment of the reading room, the establishment of a reading club in the school, and the computer lab that KEEP regularly monitors and supports.
“We will not go to stage two or three when we start to see that teachers are not assigning students to read and sheets being torn from the books. Sometimes, after a month most of the books are no longer available,” she narrated.
According to her, many students fail in the West African standardized examinations not because they are not smart, but due to a lack of reading comprehension.
The County Education Officer (CEO) of Montserrado, Harrison Darwolor, said he was grateful that KEEP can dedicate its 22nd reading room after starting very small in 2014.
Mr. Darwolor said though KEEP started as a study class, it has transcended and given back to society by developing reading rooms across Liberia.
“What makes you a student is your comprehension ability and it’s gained from reading. If you don’t go into the reading room and read, then the project will not be utilized and will not achieve its goal,” Mr. Darwolor said.
Mr. Darwolor assured KEEP’s Executive Director of the sustainability of the reading room and will ensure that the books be used for the intended purpose.
According to him, it has been observed that most of the teachers don’t assign students to read, which ends up with the books remaining dusty on the shelf.
“If we come and observe that the students are using the books, it will make us proud and happy. However, the administration should ensure that these books are tight. Let’s have someone in the reading room to guide the students to read,” Mr. Darwolor said.
Moses Buwee, monitoring and evaluation coordinator at the Kids’ Educational Engagement Project (KEEP), said the organization has been involved in providing reading spaces for students since its establishment in 2014.
“We have been able to establish 22 reading rooms in addition to the Gabriel Kpolleh public school in nine of Liberia's 15 counties. We have reading rooms in Montserrado, Grand Gedeh, Margibi, Bomi, Bong, Maryland, River Cess, and Gbarpolu counties,” Mr. Buwee said.
He, however, called on the school authority to ensure that the books and the reading room are properly managed and taken care of as if they were their own.
District Education Officer (DEO), Jollie S. Kollie, expressed gratitude to KEEP, institutions and individuals who worked in making the reading room a reality.
“We also acknowledge that we will take good care of it with the help and advice of our CEO. It’s our prayer that the reading room will be kept safe and clean. We will ensure that the door is open for students to go and read,” Mr. Kollie said.
A representative of APM Terminals said APM Terminals is committed to the growth and development of Liberia and is elated to be part of history-making in terms of the dedication of a reading room.
He said without books, the development of civilization wouldn't have been possible today as “books are the engine of change and play a transitional role in Liberian society.”
According to him, the importance of books cannot be overemphasized in Liberia which is undergoing mass transition following years of challenges.
He added, “it's our hope that the Gabriel Kpolleh reading room will give birth to technocrats needed for social transformation and leaders of Liberia, while encouraging students to take advantage of the reading room.
Augustine N. Nimely, Principal of the William Gabriel Kpolleh Public School, lauded KEEP for the initiative and assured them of using the reading room for its intended purpose.
Mr. Nimely said it has been observed that students in the public schools continue to underperform, especially in reading.
He said some of the students in the ninth grade cannot read well and he hopes that the new facility will enhance students’ skills in reading and comprehension.