— Olubanke King-Akerele
Former Liberia Foreign Minister Olubanke King-Akerele says the Kids Educational Engagement Project (KEEP) is preparing the future of the young generation and the nation in particular.
Madam King-Akerele made the assertion on Saturday, September 12, 2020 at the launch of KEEP’s latest book, titled ‘Sundaymah’s Adventures’, held at the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in Congo Town.
The book launch was a scene of excitement and jubilations as parents and children gathered in their numbers to witness and also purchase the book.
Sundaymah’s Adventures is a three-part series that has to do with overcoming fear of public speaking. It talks about three first cousins who overcome their respective fears.
Madam King-Akerele, who served as chief launcher, said given her passion for the growing development and promotion of Liberia and Africa’s emerging leaders, it is more timely and very much in order that an organization such as KEEP is promoting education through the engagement of reading at both elementary and junior high school levels.
Madam King-Akerele told KEEP’s Executive Director, Brenda B. Moore, that she is not just promoting reading across Liberia, but also preparing the future of the country’s young generation.
Madam King-Akerele recounted a UNICEF report that 52% of Liberia’s population remains illiterate, which means they cannot read and write.
According to Madam King-Akerele, she was very excited on September 8, 2020 during this year’s World Literacy Day, at which time it was established that Liberians were helping to change the narrative through several programs, including “each one, teach one,” and the culture of reading initiated by KEEP.
“When I heard how parents were running here to get books for their children, then I knew how hungry parents were for education for their children.
Madam King-Akerele expressed gratitude to KEEP for the extraordinary work that continues to prepare Liberia’s youth and the kids for the future, stating “this has thrilled me in no small measure.”
She further urged KEEP to produce a book on avoiding conflict for young people and kids.
Brenda B. Moore, Executive Director of KEEP and author of Sundaymah’s Adventures, expressed gratitude to parents who continue to allow their children to be part of her organization’s reading programs.
Mrs. Moore said the book is not only intended for fundraising but is a great way of producing local content and it also helps the kids connect with the characters a lot more whenever they hear about Musu, as opposed to characters and story elements that they cannot really relate to.
“KEEP hopes to see more kids reading because when they read, they have passion, talk better, write better, think better, excel in other subjects and keep out of trouble,” Mrs. Moore told parents at the program.
Reading a two-page excerpt from the book, Mrs. Moore said sometimes people come across challenges and insist on not taking on the challenge. However, with just one foot ahead or in front of the other, she noted, progress begins to come.
“We are excited to launch book one today, which is Sundaymah’s Adventures. It’s a story but everybody can read this book. The lessons that are in the book, there are things that adults also benefit,” Mrs. Moore said.
Commenting on the remaining two books, Mrs. Moore said book two will cover the fear of swimming and water, while book three will conclude with a series that talks about booing (overcoming booing) because there are lots of booing in the schools and it serves as starting point.
She indicated that the three books are expected to be out before December 2020. According to her, the book is also used as a teaching tool, comprising “20 interesting words with definitions”.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Moore has disclosed that KEEP is the recipient of the Ministry of Education’s 2020 literacy award. She said while KEEP is poised to receive the certificate this week, she is more excited about the recognition, stating “KEEP has been a very committed partner since 2014.”
Swedish Ambassador to Liberia, Ingrid Wetterqvist, lauded KEEP for the initiative.
“I have followed KEEP since you invited me first to read at a school and up to now. I like the focus or drive you personally bring to education,” Amb. Wetterqvist said. She promised to read the Sundaymah’s Adventures with great interest, while challenging Mrs. Moore to do more.
Mrs. Madia H. Mensah, head of the Center for Excellence for Curriculum Development at the Ministry of Education, emphasized the importance of creativity as part of reading.
Desmond A. Samuels, KEEP’s coordinator, said the organization has empowered over 400 women through village savings loans, with the aim of supporting their children in return.
“We have an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the women that they will send their children to school and also to the KEEP reading room, to enable the kids develop culture of reading,” Mr. Samuels said.
He said KEEP has seven reading rooms in Montserrado County, thereby affording parents the opportunity to send their children to read.
“Again, we want to call on parents to encourage their children to read at least 30 minutes a day. Our plan is to establish two reading rooms in each county,” Mr. Samuels said.
Meanwhile, some of the children were recognized and certificated as prolific readers, from a competition launched in July of this year. According to Leona Gono, a staff member of KEEP who manages the YWCA reading room, some children read between twelve and sixteen books during this period.