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The importance of school libraries

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Sir: In recent times, there has been a widespread demand for improvement in the quality and standard of primary and secondary education in both public and private schools across the country.

Many factors have been attributed to the low quality and falling standard of the school system, among which are: poor quality of teaching staff, poor remuneration of teachers, inadequate qualification of teachers and absence of modern teaching facilities.

Many solutions have likewise been proffered, including: a declaration of a state of emergency in the education sector; recruitment of only candidates that have education-related teaching qualifications, such as the National Certificate of Education (NCE) and Bachelor degree in Education (B.Ed.) qualifications; compulsory registration of teachers with the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), conducting of competency tests for schoolteachers; and so on.

However, apart from focusing on the quality of teaching staff as the main reason behind the low quality and standard of primary and secondary education, it is pertinent to also note that other factors come into play, such as the absence of functional and well equipped libraries in many public and private schools across the country.

In addition, the attitude of the students themselves, toward the school library and the success of their own education, also plays an important role, and should not be taken for granted.

A school library is a place where vast collections of academic books are kept. It is integral to the teaching and learning process. It plays a great role in the life of a student.

Among other things, the school library equips the students with the skills necessary to succeed in a constantly changing technological, social and economic environment.

The mind of the student gets broadened and he commands a better grasp over the subject.

The school library also ensures each student has equitable access to resources, irrespective of opportunities or constraints. Students can borrow books and take home for further study. It also promotes individual and group learning.

Since the environment of the school library is peaceful, students can study at the library without any disturbance. And when they get used to visiting the library regularly, they develop and sustain in themselves the habit and enjoyment of silent reading, reading for pleasure, and it enriches their intellectual, aesthetic, cultural and emotional growth.

For example, a student can develop his literary skills by reading rare books of literature. Also, the academic magazines and periodicals keep the student aware of the latest developments around the world.

Apart from the benefits to students, the presence of functional and well equipped libraries in public and private schools also facilitates the work of the classroom teacher. They are able to access relevant curriculum information and professional development materials that can help them to cooperatively plan, implement and evaluate learning programmes.

However, due to the absence of functional school libraries in many public and private schools across the country, students and teachers are ill-equipped with adequate educational materials and resources that could greatly contribute towards the improvement of the quality of teaching and learning in such schools.

It is therefore of prime importance that both public and private schools have and maintain functional and well equipped libraries, as this will contribute significantly towards improving the quality and standard of education received in such schools.

Daniel Ighakpe wrote from FESTAC Town, Lagos.


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