Libraries deserve greater recognition

2018-02-08 06:00

WITH schools opening recently, our children need to be encouraged to read. Many studies have proved that those children who read regularly get good marks for their school work.

But we are facing a problem because the reading culture in this country is awful. According to a study released last year by Progress in International Reading and Literacy, South Africa scored the lowest among the countries that participated in the study.

The study revealed that 78% of Grade 4 pupils in South Africa are unable to read for meaning.

We are in a crisis and drastic steps need to be taken to correct the situation.

The government needs to come to the party. The provision of library services is inadequate, especially in the rural areas. It is a shame that in a country of more than 50 million citizens there are fe wer than 2 000 public libraries. It is also distressing that only a few schools have functional libraries. Only private schools have well-stocked libraries because they know the importance of reading.

If reading materials are not provided to children, how are the literacy levels going to improve in this country?

A lot needs to be done.

Having been in the librarianship profession for more than 20 years, I have noticed that many politicians and general members of the public do not understand the crucial role played by librarians in improving literacy, and development in general. And this ignorance results in libraries not being given the attention they deserve.

Western countries are thriving because they know that without knowledge and information you are nothing. I wish South Africa could do the same and give librarians and libraries the recognition they deserve.

ROMANIUS ZULU

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