Snapshot of the Status Quo of Selected Zimbabwe School Libraries

Snapshot of the Status Quo of Selected Zimbabwe School Libraries

Sindiso Bhebhe
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5840-8.ch008
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The aim of this chapter is to discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by selected school libraries in Zimbabwe. It is based on the observation that the school's library system in Zimbabwe, including rural schools, is plagued by a plethora of challenges ranging from neglect in relation to funding and policy issues. It is from this perspective that this chapter seeks to deeply understand and address the challenges and opportunities faced by Zimbabwe's school libraries. The study adopted interpretivism approach and was qualitative in nature. It is a multiple case study with purposively eight schools being selected to be part of the research. Some of the findings noted were that expensive schools mainly frequented by the elites had modern libraries which are manned by qualified librarians with most of them being well remunerated. This was not the case with rural schools in which there were no libraries whilst those with libraries had few outdated and irrelevant books and there were no trained librarians in those schools.
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Background To The Study

According to Mchombu and Cadbury (2006: 2) it is sad that “while the west manufactures and ingests a glut of information every day the vast majority of Africans subsist on very little… books must often be shared between six or more pupils. Few schools have a school library…”The library school’s system in Zimbabwe including rural schools is plagued by a plethora of challenges ranging from neglect in relation to funding and policy issues. This is worsened by the shortfalls of the National Library Documentation Services (NLDS) Act and the lack of National Library Policy. Writing about the importance of the library legislation and policies Mojapelo and Dube (2005: 111) said:

Clearly the policy would be an overarching and strategic framework that would inform school library development and practice by providing relevant canons, guidelines and frames. Without such a framework, there is likely to be a stalemate in critical aspects such as school library governance, support, appreciation, prioritisation, positioning, and resource-provisioning. These aspects are interrelated and interdependent.

So this means the lack of proper library legislative framework does not augur well with the development and empowerment of libraries.

IFLA (1998: 2) described the library situation in Zimbabwe as:

Well below the expected standards, largely due to the absence of libraries for the people…Even in the schools, the formerly whites only schools had superb library facilities, some of which have been further improved with the advent of new technology. The hardest hit people in terms of library provision in Zimbabwe are the rural people, who according to the 1992 National population Census results, constitute over seventy percent of the country’s population.

The challenges bedevilling library schools are not unique to Zimbabwe as Agyekum and Filson (2012: 1) argue that “school library service provision has not seen remarkable change since the inception of the new educational reforms in Ghana. Some of these challenges are poor funding, untrained library staff, poor facilities among others”.

The importance of libraries in impacting literacy skills cannot be overemphasised. Literacy skills help individuals to be active citizens in a society in which they can participate in developmental projects. It is therefore of paramount significance that school libraries can be used to impact that culture of reading within the learners so that they are able to effectively participate positively in societal challenges they face such as dealing with poverty and addressing their health issues. All this is feasible when school libraries can play their cardinal role of “supporting learners to acquire, maintain and develop their literacy” (Mchombu and Cadbury, 2006: 3).

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