TEACHER'S MIND : Solving the question of libraries

BY now you must have noticed that I have dedicated a lot of time and effort on this theme of books and reading in general. This can only be tagged to the due importance that books have in the development of knowledge and research loving people, or simply my perception of the same.

BY now you must have noticed that I have dedicated a lot of time and effort on this theme of books and reading in general. This can only be tagged to the due importance that books have in the development of knowledge and research loving people, or simply my perception of the same.

Interestingly, Kenya also had a book fair a week ago coming on the heels of the one held in Uganda.

Tanzania must also be having one such event in each year especially when you consider the fact that it has the highest literacy rates in the region. As members of the East African Community it makes sense to have a similar event here as well. 

One of Kigali’s persistent troubles continues to be the non-existence of a public library. The one being constructed next to the American embassy by the Rotary club has dragged on for ages.

However, things are also not so good in the education institutions too. Libraries are still very few in schools and many are ill equipped.

Rwandans who do not get to study at higher institutions of learning thus risk missing out on the chance to ever step into a library.

As I said a while a go, a library is so crucial a place since it is largely visited by those genuinely interested in reading as compared to those who visit bookshops to buy and own a book more for the prestige. More so, it serves as a huge store of knowledge second only to the phenomenal internet itself.

Having a library in place is by all means an expensive project but like all laws or blockades, there is surely a softer way around this. I am talking about how a library can be set up easily especially for primary and secondary schools in Rwanda.

The biggest stumbling block is getting a room to accommodate the facility. This can be done by having one constructed or by sacrificing one of the rooms already in the school.

This may even involve reducing the class streams by one in order to get this facility in place. There after, services of a good carpenter should be sought to design good book shelves and cupboards where the books will be stored as well as desks.

A librarian who may not necessarily be a trained one should then be appointed. For instance a S.6 leaver (probably a former student) may be trained on what to do especially as far as record keeping is concerned. Such a person although not earning much will be saved from the chronic unemployment problems or have a chance to save some money to continue with their education. 

Collecting the books is the last bit that should actually be a lifetime or continuous endeavour. The government has programmes where text books are distributed to schools. Books can also be got from non-profit organisations like Book Aid International that are known to collect and send books to the developing world.

Parents and teachers can also be asked to contribute gently used books and magazines to the school library. If the school administration has a habit of purchasing copies of the major newspaper publications in the country, these too should be added to the library.

I know of a school where new students were asked to bring a particular book at the beginning of their A Level studies. Right now that school possesses one of the biggest libraries and is one of the best performing schools.

Putting all above aside, corporate companies can come in and help build some of these structures for schools and have their names branded on the structure.

In my O level, the school library was actually named, Muljibhai Madhvani Library after the wealthy Ugandan-Asian family that also owns Kabuye Sugar Factory in Rwanda.

I am sure, it’s not too much to ask for MTN, BCR, KCB, Rwandatel, SULFO and others to join this modern practice of corporate social responsibility.

ssenyonga@gmail.com

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