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National Book Trust: 10 years

By Vision Reporter

Added 11th September 2007 03:00 AM

ARECENT report on the progress of the Education For All initiative presents discrepancies in literacy levels in the country. It indicates increased literacy rates among girls in P.3 from 35.5% in 2003, to 40% in 2005 and 46.9% in 2006 against boys’ 33.1% in 2003, 37% in 2005 and 44.2% in 2006.

ARECENT report on the progress of the Education For All initiative presents discrepancies in literacy levels in the country. It indicates increased literacy rates among girls in P.3 from 35.5% in 2003, to 40% in 2005 and 46.9% in 2006 against boys’ 33.1% in 2003, 37% in 2005 and 44.2% in 2006.

By Stephen Ssenkaaba

ARECENT report on the progress of the Education For All initiative presents discrepancies in literacy levels in the country. It indicates increased literacy rates among girls in P.3 from 35.5% in 2003, to 40% in 2005 and 46.9% in 2006 against boys’ 33.1% in 2003, 37% in 2005 and 44.2% in 2006.

Among P6 pupils, the girls’ literacy rate in 2006 was 33.6% against boys’ 33.4%.

“There is every hope that literacy levels will improve even further,” says James Tumusiime, the managing director of Fountain Publishers and co-founder of the National Book Trust of Uganda (NABOTU).

For the last 10 years, NABOTU has been instrumental in promoting the reading culture, rallying key players in the publishing industry together and promoting reading campaigns in primary schools.

It has so far donated 42,502 books directly to schools through its donation programme and 68,400 books through its reading tents programme.

“One of our primary roles has been to raise awareness about the importance of reading and the role that books play in developing society,” says Charles Batambuze, the NABOTU executive secretary.

NABOTU has worked with the Government to encourage schools to use locally published books. In 2000, it became an official government policy for all government-aided schools to use books from bookshops in their respective districts.

NABOTU was also instrumental in getting local publishers to supply books to various schools in northern Uganda where the United Nations International Children’s Fund had been the sole supplier.

Over 200 bookshops have been created in the country, up from 10 over a decade ago. The country also boasts about 20 active publishers up from just two.

For all its achievements, NABOTU still faces serious challenges in its efforts to champion literacy. “The book industry is very slow. It takes time to realise profits,” says Tumusiime, adding that the industry still lacks sufficient manpower, which affects productive capacity. But he is most worried about the poor reading culture.

Aggrey Kibenge, the Ministry of Education and Sports spokesman says: “Literacy and numeracy are areas where we have not been doing well, but NABOTU has been relevant in our efforts to improve.”

NABOTU, the brain child of Tumusiime, was born in 1997 out of the then Uganda Publishers and Booksellers Association which had been formed in 1990.

NABOTU gets support from the Swedish International Development Agency and other development partners.

National Book Trust: 10 years

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