Literacy Libraries Change Lives in Africa

Imagine you picked up a book and couldn’t read the words, went to take a medication but couldn’t read the instructions, or visited a new city and couldn’t read the street signs. According to the United Nations, globally, one in five adults cannot read; in Sub Saharan Africa, two in five adults are illiterate and some 31 million primary-school-age children who don’t attend school may become the next generation of non-reading adults.

Saturday, September 8, was International Literacy Day, which recognizes that a literate population is central to promoting economic well being, health and a well-functioning democracy.

Africa’s cities are filled with poor children, many homeless or orphaned, who cannot afford to go to school. Many are affected by HIV and AIDS.  In Lusaka, Zambia, these children are getting a chance to learn to read and improve their literacy through the Lubuto Library Project, an Aid for Africa member that creates beautiful libraries that are enriching safe havens for vulnerable children to learn, listen, experience and express themselves.

The Lubuto libraries open their doors to disadvantaged out-of-school Zambian youth. Through Lubuto’s programs, these children and young adults acquire literacy skills and build their self worth.  The libraries are stocked with expertly selected and organized children’s books and local-language materials, and are staffed by local community-based social organizations. Children can page through or read books or join “storytime sessions,” where books are read out loud. Children also act out scenes from the books, create art based on their readings, and are encouraged to write their own stories.

At the Lubuto libraries, literacy starts with reading but includes much more. Lubuto has a laptop program that helps children become computer literate. Lubuto laptops are used by children to write about their lives and improve their language and computer skills.

Enesto Zulu began to visit the Lubuto Library in Lusaka when he was 14 years old. When asked why he came, he said, “I come to know about the world, about the people, and about the maps.” He also used the laptops and took art classes.

Literacy is not just knowing how to read, it is the first step to knowing about the world. Learn more about Aid for Africa members helping children and young adults in Sub Saharan Africa learn to read and enhance their literacy.

Related Stories:

The Unstoppable Tide of Education Grows Across Africa

Emptying Landfills to Support Literacy

The Myth of the Education Crisis

Aid for Africa is an alliance of 85 U.S.-based nonprofits and their African partners who help children, families, and communities throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Aid for Africa’s grassroots programs focus on health, education, economic development, arts & culture, conservation, and wildlife protection in Africa.


Lynn D.
Lynn D5 years ago

How wonderful for these children, hope the library lets adults in also!

natalie n.
natalie n5 years ago

education and knowledge are key empowering tools. wonderful programmes.

J.L. A.
j A5 years ago

literacy makes a big difference to anyone anywhere

Cheryl I.
Past Member 5 years ago

Great, thanks.

Olga Lustosa
Olga Lustosa5 years ago

What a beautiful project. Wish I could help.

Janet McGillacuddy

That is fantastic news. These countries need to educate their people as well as controlling their populations if they ever want to pull themselves out of poverty.

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers5 years ago

Good news.

Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Abbe A.
Azaima A5 years ago


Suzette L.
Suzette Leleu5 years ago

What a magnificent program! Being able to feed the mind is as important as feeding the body.