• August 9th, 2020

School libraries the best weapon in education battlefield

Allow me to share the significance of school libraries that many are not acquainted with.  The importance of school libraries in a Namibian child’s education cannot be over emphasised.  School libraries are more than just a storage place for books, they have an important role in the support of resource-based learning, promotion of the understanding of Media and Information Literacy as well as promoting a love of reading among learners.  

School libraries in Namibia play a significant role in providing information to support National Development Plans (NDPs), Vision 2030, National Revised Curriculum for Basic Education, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) particularly SDG #4 ‘to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning for all’.  

Resource-based learning has become an important core component of the Namibian education curriculum.  Learners are required to make use of various resources such as books, journals, newspapers, multimedia, web, community as well as people to learn about a particular topic.  The school library is the most effective way of providing materials and services for resource-based learning.  

School libraries’ support for resource-based learning goes far beyond the provision of resources as it plays a major role in the development of resource-based programs that are necessary to achieve the goals that underlie the school curriculum.  Resource based learning is one of the requirements of acquiring information literacy.  

School librarians collaborate with classroom teachers, through which learners acquire the knowledge of how to retrieve, evaluate, organise, share and apply information objectively, critically and independently.  The school library equips learners to be information literate for life-long learning.  School libraries invest these skills in learners to ensure that learning does not end with the completion of secondary education, but continues throughout their life.  In today’s era, information literacy is a crucial skill to be possessed by every citizen in order to flourish in an information-rich environment.  

As much as there is Google to help learners retrieve information from the internet, it is however a challenge for learners to differentiate the bad sources from the good sources.  Librarians provide guidance for searching online, provide access to databases and indexes that can grasp the areas that a surface Google search cannot reach.  

In the school library, learners are equipped with skills on how to search properly in the ocean of information as well as to evaluate the value of the information’s source.  Strong information literacy foundation at an early age is essential for lifelong learning, without a school library, learners are unable to learn the foundations they need to become information literate.

When learners are provided with the opportunity to use school libraries to access and explore information that matters to them, different forms of literacy and numeracy develop in learners. Several studies indicate that school libraries can have a positive impact on learners’ achievement as more reading occurs when there is a school library leading to enhanced learners’ performance in reading comprehension.  

It is a well-known fact that Namibia has high rate of reading difficulties among school learners, a school library is therefore one of the solutions to this problem as it is basically the centre of reading promotion in a school, it has the power to stimulate literacy in learners of different ages.  School libraries are valuable especially to those learners who are from disadvantaged background with no access to books and relevant resources to their academic progress, let alone access to public libraries.

School libraries are taking over the role of serving as information gateways at the centre of learning establishments, hence they should be regarded as key sites for the development of information literacy. They have the potential to become the hub of classroom learning by extending information tools and attending to learners’ daily information needs.  The absence of a school library with an active library staff have consequences far beyond the classroom, as this will deprive learners the opportunities to develop information literacy skills.  As a result, learners will face serious challenges when they enter institutions of higher education or the workforce.  All schools with library facilities need to ensure that their libraries are optimally used and learners have access to the resources.

* Esther Tobias is Chief Librarian: Education Library Service, Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture.

Staff Reporter
2019-09-13 08:28:49 | 10 months ago

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