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New libraries association targets rural schools

New libraries association targets rural schools

Harare, September 13th 2012: Zimbabwean rural schools are set to benefit from an outreach campaign designed to promote access to reading materials in rural schools as well as lobby government to second staff to ensure sustainability, officials of a recently launched library association said on Tuesday.

“We want to widen the readership base so that students develop an interest in ordinary literature and develop a reading culture,” said Joshua Chigodora, Trustee at the Zimbabwe Rural Schools Library Trust (ZRSLT) during a Food for Thought discussion session held at the U.S. Embassy’s Eastgate offices.  

ZRSLT was launched in May this year to address the challenges faced by rural schools in accessing reading materials and works with rural school authorities to ensure functioning and resourced libraries. According to a baseline study conducted by the ZRSLT only seven percent of 8,000 rural primary schools have some form of a library.

“Our rural schools are generally under resourced and the situation has become much worse over the years. We want to ensure that we establish libraries in at least eight schools each year in eight provinces by 2014 to benefit schoolchildren and other members of their communities,” said Mathew Chandavengerwa, chairperson of the ZRSLT.  

Chigodora bemoaned the marginalization of rural schools but also criticized schools for producing pupils for the exam rather than developing a culture of reading and knowledge acquisition among children. He pointed out that the sustainability of these libraries depended on the presence of trained librarians in those facilities. He noted that the policy to have a library with a trained librarian was there but was not being implemented.

“We are going to lobby the government to find the placement of trained librarians in rural schools and we are going push for the funding of these librarians,’ said Chigodora.

Another official from the organization noted new developments in the information technology sector which most libraries are not using to ensure access to relevant information for students and library users.

“The society that we are living in now has been branded the information age, where we are saying the factors of production are now information technology and this can be achieved by being information literate, not just literate” said  Nyasha Mutindindi, a library science specialist with the Harare Polytechnic Library.

However, the ZRSLT has its focus on books and is working to source reading materials locally and abroad, said the officials.

“We are sourcing books locally and abroad from as far as New Zealand, the UK where arrangements have already been made for those books to be shipped,” said Chandavengerwa.

“If the average child in the rural areas is exposed to library facilities, they will obviously play a much better role in the development of the country,” he added saying the organization aimed at mobilizing resources for the establishment of libraries in rural schools in eight of the provinces- ZimPAS© September 13, 2012

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ZimPAS is a product of the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section. Comments and queries should be submitted to Sharon Hudson Dean, Counselor for Public Affairs,  hararepas@state.gov  Url: http://harare.usembassy.gov