Thursday, February 07, 2008

Do African community libraries have to be justified?

From a report Libraries, literacy and poverty reduction: a key to African development by Professor Kingo Mchombu, University of Namibia and Nicola Cadbury, Book Aid International

One justification: Stop adults who have gone to school from relapsing to functional illiteracy...
In sub Saharan Africa adult literacy levels are now 61% (UNDP 2005). But without regular use literacy skills can be lost within a few years. A large percentage of participants in adult literacy programmes lapse into illiteracy within just a few years if they don’t have access to follow up support and appropriate reading materials (Abadzi 2004). The Association for Literacy in Zimbabwe finds that most of their adult illiterates are lapsed literates rather than people with no educational background. Unless literate environments are created which can sustain literacy for life, then education investments will not deliver the lasting benefits required to change lives and reduce poverty.
And there is more interesting stuff:
One of the most significant challenges facing library services in reaching the poor comes from the very limited coverage of most of the library services surveyed. Because of lack of government investment they are unable to achieve anything like full coverage of the population. For instance, Kenya, with its population of 32 million and large literate population of over 15 million, has only 36 public libraries. Malawi has 10, and Uganda 30. Most library service points are located in urban areas where population is highly concentrated and there are few branches in rural areas where a greater proportion of the population live in dispersed settlements.

The Uganda survey response noted that four libraries (Buikwe, Kyabutaika, Nakaseke and Katengesa) have established collaborative arrangements with NGOs and groups to provide economic empowerment information and other community-led information-sharing activities using the library as their platform. Such initiatives are important first steps towards optimising partnership between libraries and their beneficiary communities. Really effective partnerships will happen when all sections of society are able to request and receive the information they need, while at the same time libraries are equipped to record and disseminate communities’ local knowledge.
That's right, our very own Kitengesa...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think they spelled your library's name wrong.