“Books For Africa a ‘Key’ Priority

Books for Africa a “Key” Priority
Ryersonian 10/11/2006, by Izabela Szydlo

The Golden Key Honour Society is trying to help open doors to literacy in Africa .

The group, which targets top students in each department, has partnered with a charity organization called Books for Africa .  The hope is to promote higher education in the continent which struggles with combating illiteracy.

“Our main goal is to collect textbooks which are no older than five years old,” said Vipin Khullar, president of Golden Key’s Ryerson chapter.

“If you’re trying to educate people in other countries all the books need to be up to date.”

The book drive, which will consist of boxes placed in high-traffic areas such as Jorgenson Hall, brought in about 700 books last semester.  Khullar said students can be expected to see boxes out next week.

“My goal is to raise more books than any school in the northeast region,” he said.  “With every event that we do I try to get Ryerson’s name out there and show a sense of community that the university has.”

Namarig Ahmed wants to help support the cause, but the second-year nursing student said that the campaign needs to be better advertised and students need to be made aware of what the boxes are.

“I’m definitely going to drop off some of my older texts,” she said.  “But I think people may pass the bin and say: “why should we send some random book to Africa ?” without realizing that they collect a whole bunch of the same book and send it off.”

According to the Books for Africa website, since 1988 more than 13 million books have been donated in hopes of putting an end to illiteracy, which stands at 41 per cent among Africans over the age of 15.

The organization is partnered with a larger literacy campaign called Better World Books, which provides boxes and funding so that books can be shipped
directly to classrooms and libraries.  Books are sent to 26 countries, including Botswana , Senegal and Sudan.

Jennifer Hargreaves, director of Canadian operations for Golden Key, said that the campaign is not only positive but also reflective of her organization’s goals.

“It really supports our goals of supporting higher education and academic achievement,” she said.

“We’re helping students understand basic human rights and allowing them to take a more direct role in the educational process.”

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