Greenwell Matongo Community Library as Learning Environment for Children: Broadening Learning Environment and Providing Learning Support

NYBERG, Ritva and HAYES, Margaretha (2014) Greenwell Matongo Community Library as Learning Environment for Children: Broadening Learning Environment and Providing Learning Support. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2014 - Lyon - Libraries, Citizens, Societies: Confluence for Knowledge in Session 144 - Africa with Libraries for Children and Young Adults. In: IFLA WLIC 2014, 16-22 August 2014, Lyon, France.

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Language: English (Original)
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Greenwell Matongo Community Library as Learning Environment for Children: Broadening Learning Environment and Providing Learning Support

Vantaa, the fourth largest city in Finland, started cooperating with the city of Windhoek, the capital of Namibia in 2002. As a result of this cooperation a community library was established at Greenwell Matongo, an informal settlement area of Windhoek in 2005. The cooperation is a part of the North-South Local Authority Programme financed by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and administrated by the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities. The civil servants of the two cities carry out the co-operation. Over the years the Greenwell Matongo community library has become an important meeting place for the local people, especially schoolchildren and students. Today, Greenwell Matongo library is always full of students studying, reading books and newspapers, doing homework, using Internet, or attending life skills courses and other activities. The library has a reading room as well as a computer room with 23 computers. It provides regular computer courses, day camps for school children, story-telling hours and assistance with homework. Children living in the densely populated Katutura and Khomasdal in Windhoek are mainly from households that are experiencing challenges of limited space, lack of electricity or limited access to electricity. The children live in areas where alcohol outlets, are playing loud music to attract customers. This environment affects the learning and studying abilities of the children and youth. An example of success stories in the Greenwell Matongo library are the after school activities. The library started assisting library users, children, with school homework and guiding them in using the library effective as resource within the community. The benefits of the homework assistance initiative yielded so much fruit that the teachers from the neighbouring schools started referring more and more learners to the library for assistance, which resulted in an increased demand for these services. The librarian and library staff came across a need for an integrated structured after school care programme. The need for specific subject tutoring was identified and the focus on mathematics, biology, physical science and reading was emphasised. After procuring Genius Educational Software, which includes programs on all subjects from grade 0 to 12, and with the assistance of our volunteers, we could even host a summer school to help prepare specifi-cally grade 10 learners for their final exams. The overall objective of the programme was to create an environment where learners are encouraged, supported and guided into developing their full potential. The programme aimed to promote values of caring, honesty, respect, responsibility and trustworthiness. The Greenwell Matongo Community Library after school care programme incorporated recreational sports that actively and in a fun way enhances learning through instruments such as puzzles and chess games among others. The girl’s cultural and dance group is one other element that helps shape the youth of the community. Another example of the activities organized by the library was a spelling competition organized on the 5th of October 2013. The competitors were grade 5 to grade 7 learners from various schools. The organizers of the event described it as a remarkable experience; couple with very excellent opportunity for youngster to rise to fame one day. They also thought it could be productive and fruitful, if event of such kind could be organized three (3) times annually, in order to see a significant progress in the improvement in English language. These are only a few examples of the many activities organized at Greenwell Matongo Com-munity Library in order to courage learners to reach their full potential. Today the library is a safe environment for learning support and a model library in Namibia. The city of Windhoek will open another community library in a poor and densely populated area in Windhoek and the good practices are also shared in other parts of the country.

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