[EN] Conversation with Lily Nyariki, Focal point ADEA - by Ulrich Talla Wamba
‘‘We believe that it is now time for Africa’’ - Conversation with Lily Nyariki, Focal point | ADEA.
Publishers & Books: If we had to introduce you to our readers, what could we retain?
Lily Nyariki: I am a Librarian and a Book Development Specialist, passionate about letting everyone know the power of information and knowledge in everyone’s life that comes about through reading books and other informational materials. I am the Focal Point (Anglophone Countries) for the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) Inter Country Quality Node for Teaching and Learning (ICQN -TL) Books and Learning Materials section responsible for raising awareness about books and reading. I have worked with books and reading promotion activities for decades now and would not want to do anything different. I have written two books and several papers all about books and reading in Africa. I served for 22 years as the Bookshop Manager at Moi University in Eldoret Kenya. I love to network with like minded people.
P&B: Last June, Nairobi hosted two major meetings for publishing, book and book education in Africa. You have bitterly participated. What are your observations? What is your assessment ?
L. N.: ADEA and its partners namely, the Global Book Alliance, the African Union Commission and the Ministry of Education Kenya, held a three days High level Workshop on National Book and Reading Policies in Africa. The discussions centred around the urgent need for African countries to adopt a Continental Framework on National Book and Reading policies in Africa developed by the Africa Union Commission ostensibly to help African Countries establish and develop their book industries as a key factor in contributing to development of culture, information and education. The framework will provide developmental and legal guidelines on the production and distribution of books, and promoting reading and the book trade. The workshop was highly successful and at the end participants validated the Framework that will give all African countries a head start in planning, and formulating their National Book and Reading policies. The framework offers all the important parameters for consideration in the process of formulating a National Book and Reading Policy. This is a milestone for Africa and ADEA and partners will continue to work with all African countries to ensure the Framework is adopted and utilised. The regional workshop brought a strong awakening on the need to formulate and enact National Book and Reading Policies with the full support of governments.
The other was a conference organised by the International Publishers Association (IPA) in collaboration with African Publishers Network (APNET) whose theme was Africa Rising: Realising Africa’s Potential as a Global Publishing Leader in the 21st Century. ADEA and IPA signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together to improve publishing outcomes across Africa by holding joint activities wherever possible. This is the time for Africa and all stakeholders in the publishing industry are working to ensure that publishing is recognised as a strategic industry central to all development activities, which will guarantee quality education in line with the UN Vision 2030 Sustainable Goal 4 and Agenda 2063 of the African Union commission and the Common Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 2016-25) that seeks to have a prosperous continent driven by its own people.
Powered by the ADEA (Association for the Development of Education in Africa) of which you are a leader, and other partners to whom the African Union, a framework agreement has been validated by the participants in the assizes. Can we say that Africa has taken an important step? Why?
The Continental framework on National book and Reading Policies in Africa is indeed an important milestone for ADEA which has been in the forefront of propagating for National Book and Reading policies in Africa as a means of ensuring that Africa begins to be a net producer of its owns reading materials as opposed to being a consumer of other continents publications which may not be suitable for its people due to cultural differences. It is important for African countries to formulate their own policies through the guidance of the framework that provides clear guidelines on the process.
This framework agreement (you have made it clear) goes in practice to push governments to build strong national structures for book development. In wishing that the text be adopted by the Heads of State soon, what will be the next steps necessary for its effective implementation in our different countries?
This was a joint effort by four formidable institutions, namely ADEA, GBA, African Union Commission and the Ministry of Education Kenya who worked to ether to send a clear message to all member countries of AUC and ADEA, and therefore we expect that going forward all countries will get copy of the Framework and if they require expertise to help in policy formulation, the ADEA Focal Points on Books and learning Materials and other book development experts will be at hand to work with them to actualise their policies.
The African population is essentially young. How to succeed the challenge of training by quality books, in the coming years? What should be the role of the publisher?
African youth will certainly be a force to reckon with in the near future as their population continues to grow. The critical thing here is that young people need to be guided on the role of information in their lives and how they need to acquire critical skills and knowledge to make them competitive in the work of work that is constantly changing and demanding new skills and aptitudes. Publishers have a critical role to play to make available requisite information materials that are attractive to the youth and which will complement their education and the need for lifelong learning as the environment around them grows and changes with time. There are implications for relevant content and formats that will keep young people consuming the information that they need overtime.
Lily, what is the place of African languages in the process of raising children?
African languages are still alive especially in the rural areas where most Africans live. I think what needs to be done is that they need to be given new lease of life by being published so that they are preserved and children given chance to learn in languages they know and understand well. Research has concluded that children learn better in languages that they hear and understand well and in most cases, these are the local languages or mother tongues.
We believe that African governments need to have clear language policies that give local languages the opportunity to be used especially in lower primary grades before they are introduced to international languages like English and French. There is unmistaken view that local languages do not offer an economic opportunity for the users, but I think it is because local languages have not been marketed and made readily accessible via reading materials that will interest readers. Local languages have been easily marketed through Radio and the same can be achieved through reading materials in suitable formats, like audio books, print and eBooks.
One last word for the attention of our readers?
Africa has lagged behind in the field of book publishing, but we believe that it is now time for Africa. It is never late for anything and given the modern demands for overall development and reawakening of cultural values and quality education, Africans need to come to a point where, they recognise that book publishing is strategic to their efforts at making Africa competitive and able to keep on track of the global initiatives geared at improving living standards for all. In any case, reading is considered as a fundamental skill globally and if Africa is to remain relevant and competitive, it is now necessary to build book industries that support such aspirations, because Africa cannot be build by other continents’ but by its own home grown information and knowledge.