Wednesday, 12 July 2006

Sorry state of school libraries on Zanzibar Island

Staff from Zanzibar Library Services visited all 164 government primary, secondary and mixed (primary and secondary) school on Unguja (Zanzibar Island) over a 10 week period from May – July 2006 in order to evaluate the current state of library provision to support learning and teaching on the island. ZLS intends to use the results of this survey to develop programmes to improve access for students and teachers to library services across the island.

Sadly, most school libraries do not resemble the well-stocked library at Lumumba Secondary in Stone Town (pictured above). Instead, nearly 60% of schools currently have no form of school library, with the absence of libraries in primary schools and schools in North A, B and Central districts being particularly notable. Current school libraries differ greatly in terms of form and functionality, with only 25 school libraries at present able to provide basic services to students.

Key challenges facing schools with libraries include:
  • inadequate, disorganised library environments;
  • inappropriate library stock;
  • insufficient and untrained library staff;
  • lack of integration of library usage into classroom teaching and learning;
  • school communities’ lack of interest in libraries;
  • lack of support for ongoing library development from the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MOEVT)
Issues facing those schools without libraries include:
  • lack of funding for building, converting, equipping and / or stocking libraries;
  • school communities’ lack of interest in library development;
  • lack of leadership from MOEVT in encouraging schools in the development of new libraries (as outlined in the Zanzibar Education Policy 2006)

Based on the findings of this survey, ZLS prepared some recommendations for the MOEVT to consider, including:

  • Establishing cluster libraries for neighbouring schools to share;
  • Encouraging libraries at Teachers Centres to work more closely with students and schools;
  • Setting up mobile libraries for primary schools in rural districts;
  • Sponsoring regular training workshops for teacher-librarians to improve existing school libraries;
  • Assisting schools without libraries in drawing up project plans for the development of new libraries.

If you would like to receive a copy of the full survey report or are interested in learning more abot how you can support school library development in Zanzibar, please email Zanzibar Library Services

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