What is a Classroom Library?
And more importantly, why is PEPY involved with them? Great questions, and we’ve been spending the past two weeks answering them in 10 rural schools around Siem Reap province. As we introduce the Classroom Library model to teachers in the pilot schools selected through PEPY and Room to Read, we are excited to be moving beyond the logistical details of book leveling, printing, and ordering and onto the excitement of training; seeing how the program functions and working to improve it.
A Classroom Library consists at its base of accessible, grade-appropriate books in a classroom, coupled with teacher training on how to integrate those books into classes. We began this project after years of frustration with the common model of libraries in Cambodia, where locked rooms sit empty and books collect dust on shelves. In Chanleas Dai commune today there are several libraries like this. In most, the teachers rarely if ever enter the “library” and books are never used within classrooms. Not only is this sometimes against the rules of the funders supplying the libraries, its also something teachers have no training for. The idea that books can be used for activities, to encourage critical thinking or supplement ministry lessons rarely exists among government teachers. Most of them did not ever have books in their classrooms, so they have few models from which to draw.
In the next week we expect all 10 pilot schools to have functioning classroom libraries, complete with classroom copies of books, leveled readers, and activity manuals on how to use books within the classroom. For the past week our education team has been facilitating introductory trainings at each of the schools, working with teachers and school directors to better understand both WHY we are piloting Classroom Libraries and HOW they can utilize them in their classroom. In the next month, we will be continuing the project with a second training on effectively using books in the classroom.