MASVINGO – Renowned poet Chirikure Chirikure has refurbished a building at Nemashakwe Business Centre, Vhunjere in rural Gutu and turned into a digital library.
The project is courtesy of funding that one of Zimbabwe’s most famed artist secured from the African Publishing Innovation Fund (APIF).
The library is complete with piped water from a solar-powered borehole and the project was carried out at a cost of around US$15 000.
The library is a response to the Covid19 pandemic that has left thousands of children in Zimbabwe and millions in Africa out of school because they cannot afford and have no access to internet lessons.
Chirikure confirmed the development and told The Mirror that the library has just been completed.
The library has internet connection, book library, a study place and it offers livelihood training programs. The borehole has capacity to supply nearby villages.
The project comes in the wake of Covid19 which has left millions of children in under resourced Africa out of school and the library comes in handy because of the digital access.
“With school and rural areas poorly resourced, communities across Zimbabwe lack social infrastructure, such as libraries. Led by Chirikure Chirikure, the country’s most famous poet, this initiative will develop a modern community library and resource centre in Nemashakwe area, Gutu district, that will provide 800 students and youth access to books, a place to study, and programs to attain livelihood skills,” reads part of a statement released by APIF.
Chirikure got the funding after submitting an application and he was one of the 311 applicants from 26 countries. His application is among the five that were successful.
The other selected entries are from Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.
The programme is funded through an APIF four-year US$800 000 fund provided by Dubai Cares, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) based philanthropic organisation and administered by International Publishers Association (IPA).
Dubai Cares chief executive officer Dr Tariq Al Gurg said the grant recipients are charged with finding ways of ensuring that students will not be disrupted from learning even in the midst of the Covid19 pandemic.
‘Over 250m African school going children are out of school owing to Covid19 particularly in rural areas where there is no internet connection, library facilities and where there is significant urban-rural digital divides”, reads part of the press statement.
IPA president Bodour Al Qasimi said the effects of Covid19 on education are acutest where the infrastructure cannot support the connectivity required for distance learning.
“Having received far more applications than we could have imagined, we are all very excited to have found five projects that we believe will deliver significant benefits for a great number of children and young people,” said Qasimi.