Sharing the gift of knowledge, one book at a time
by Stephanie Barrett
MI’s Kelly Moret, second from left, and Ed Durnford, far right, present the donated books to the Malawi College of Fisheries.
The typical Canadian classroom is often a stark contrast to the learning environments of many developing countries. MI International, the international branch of the Fisheries and Marine Institute, is partnered with several college, university and training facilities in developing countries and is challenged by this discrepancy each time they visit the resource centres of their partner institutions.
One of MI International’s partnerships is with the Government of Malawi’s Department of Fisheries-Malawi College of Fisheries. This CIDA-AUCC sponsored project, Sustainable Fisheries for Food Security, aims to build the capacity of the college faculty and outreach workers in seafood processing and environmental sustainability.
When the MI project team visited the college library, however, they found an almost empty resource room that contained little to no college level texts.
As a result of this awareness, MI International launched a “Got Books” campaign in an effort to collect re-cycled books for the college. Although notices were initially circulated internally at MI, the information quickly spread to Memorial’s main campus, the College of the North Atlantic and the Department of Fisheries. In total more than 30 cases (450 books) of college level books were collected in subject areas ranging from English, business, calculus, biology, physics, and environmental science.
Dr. Keith Lewis, a postdoctoral fellow from MUN, was one of the donors who gave about 50 biology and environmental science text books and laboratory manuals to the Malawi College of Fisheries.
“The books came from retiring professors in the Biology Department and donating the books to people who could use them made more sense then recycling the books or sending them to the landfill,” he explained.
The books that have been collected have not only benefited the Malawi College of Fisheries but have also been distributed to other parts of Africa and Asia. Some 12 boxes of books have been donated to Mozambique’s Institute for Small Scale Fisheries Development, Malawi’s Bunda College of Agriculture, Cambodia’s Prek Leap National School of Agriculture and Vietnam’s Tra Vinh’s Community College. The training centres in Mozambique and Cambodia are current partners with MI International on CIDA-ACCC projects whereas the other colleges in Malawi and Vietnam represent former MI partnerships from completed CIDA AUCC and bilateral projects.
Dick Kachilonda, Principal of the Malawi College of Fisheries, said that the books offered to the college are extremely helpful to both the lecturers and students at the college.
“Previously the library did not have enough books but with the arrival of the books from Canada we feel relieved and we will ensure that the books are taken care of and are used for the intended purposes.”
Kelly Moret, co-ordinator of the Got Books campaign, reports it was a huge success. “When we started this initiative we could have never anticipated the number of books we received or the willingness of the academic community to donate such valuable resources.”
The challenge, Ms. Moret notes, is not in the collecting of the books but the ability to ship or transport the books around the world. “To date, the majority of the books that have been delivered to Africa and Asia have been shipped as personal luggage by project personnel visiting the partner institutions. Even the executive director of the Marine Institute Glenn Blackwood has forgone personal luggage in an effort to bring texts to MI’s partner institutions.”
Any department who would like more information on this initiative are encouraged to call Kelly Moret (778-0425) or Glen Penny (778-593) at the Marine Institute.