Namse Peter Udosen is a teacher and educational researcher based in Kaduna. The curator of the Tanar Kaduna Bookathon and author of three books in this interview, spoke about his passion on literacy development, especially in public schools.
How do you support literacy development initiatives?
My motivation is primarily the lack of Children’s reading books with rich local content in our schools. Access to books is a key factor on literacy development. This is why I am putting together, a Bookathon where volunteers will come together to create books for our children.
What are the challenges you face in doing this?
There are many challenges. One of the major challenges is the general condescending attitude of Nigerians to books, education and anything intellectual. Many people I interact with do not see the relationship between books availability and Literacy development.
What projects are you working on?
The Tanar Kaduna Bookathon is the major project I am working on. I am also involved in Dependency Project aimed at giving the Almajiri children some basic form of literacy.
What is your current member strength?
We are three now and we hope to expand with time.
How do you source your project fund?
I fund most activities from my account and also from proceeds from the sale of my books. I also solicit for funds from well-meaning organizations.
What are the platforms you are creating to empower others?
I have run free workshops on how to write children stories. I try to pay young talented illustrators and editors for my personal projects. I also give young people opportunities to volunteer and learn when I do trainings. The Bookathon is especially important for developing the talents of young writers, illustrators and graphics designers. It gives them an opportunity to put their skills into the service of literacy development.
What is the outlook of the Bookathon?
Tanar Kaduna Bookathon is a project borne out of a vision to improve literacy in Kaduna State. It gathers creatives and publishing experts to volunteer their skills to create more culturally relevant books and to make them available to underserved children, especially those in public schools. It is to enable us create books and distribute them to the poorest and most marginalized of children in Kaduna State. Every child should own at least one book per year.
The Tanar Kaduna Bookathon is built on a model designed by Bookdash in South Africa. It gathers volunteer creative professionals to create new, Nigerian storybooks that anyone can freely translate and distribute.
Why do you target only children?
Children in Kaduna need more books, but they cost too much when purchased from publishers. So our participants do the work of publishers. Then anyone can get print runs sponsored and put finished books into the hands of children.
What are your plans on expansion?
I plan to establish a full educational training and coaching centre and to produce more teaching and learning aids for schools.
What is your advice to youths, many who are still unemployed?
They should strive for personal development. The world is changing fast and youths need to develop skill sets that are relevant to the new world.