independent

Thursday 22 August 2019

Helping African children to learn

OLD SCHOOL BOOKS ON WAY TO NIGERIA

SAOIRSE MCGARRIGLE

AS CHILDREN vacate their classrooms at the beginning of the Summer holiday break, probably the last thing on their mind is what will happen to last year's school books.

However, a creative new initiative has been established by a local scientist with a view to ensuring these old and unwanted text books find a new home, in his homeland of Nigeria.

Dr. Magnus Amajirionwu, from the Environmental Protection Agency at Johnstown Castle Estate, spear-headed a mobile library project which saw thousands of unwanted academic books be collected from across County Wexford to be sent to the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri in Southeast Nigeria. This region was formerly known as the Republic of Biafra.

Most of the primary and secondary schools in the region are rural and the schools have a limited source of materials available to support the students learning.

To date over 3,000 volumes of educational books have been donated towards the project. It is intended that the mobile library will serve as a complementary repository of books and information, which will be open to all students from primary, secondary and third level institutions run by the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri.

The project benefited hugely from a donation of a ten year old van which was previously used for air monitoring by the EPA but was decommissioned in early 2011. It was decided that the van which was no longer in use by the agency should be donated to the mobile library initiative.

The EPA agreed to donate the van to this worthy cause subject to the process being coordinated by an Irish registered charity.

At this point it was decided that the Council of Knights of St. Columbanus, which is a registered Irish registered charity, on which Dr. Amajirionwu serves as Secretary, was invited to come on board with the project. Ownership of the van was then transferred to the Knights of St. Columbanus in December 2011.

The mobile library, together with its contents, will be shipped through Dublin Port. It will proceed from there to the Port of Antwerp in Belgium, before making its way to Tin Can Island, Lagos, Nigeria. From Lagos it will be driven the 600 miles to Owerri, Southeast Nigeria. The cost of the shipment has been kindly underwritten by Irish Aid, Trocáire and the Knights of St. Columbanus.

Dr. Amajirionwu has committed to continue collecting books to replenish the library on an annual basis.

Anyone who wishes to donate any unused school books can deposit them at the EPA Headquarters in Johnstown Castle Estate, marked for the attention of Dr. Amajirionwu.

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