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June 27, 2013


Lack of good libraries is impacting negatively on education


While education is described as the result of acquired knowledge and the accumulation of observations and experiences, a library serves as both the protector and storehouse of that knowledge and experience. Indeed, a library not only meets the information needs of individuals, it creates and further develops the civic sense and habits of citizens in the constructive use of their leisure time. A library also enables students to educate themselves continuously while keeping abreast of progress in all fields of knowledge and on public issues and world affairs. Given the foregoing, it goes without saying that there can be no meaningful education without functional libraries.

In Nigeria, however, the education sector has long existed without functional public libraries since existing ones are no better than the "national archives" they have derogatorily been termed. Most of our public libraries are not fit for purpose, with unconducive environment, old furniture, first or second edition of old books, some of which were published in the 60s and 70s and which have been updated and reprinted more than five times. The reading rooms are mostly dark and stuffy as a result of power outage and poor/faulty cooling systems.

In the past, students used to spend more time in the libraries after school because of the availability of textbooks and other reference materials, which help them to prepare for examinations and for self development. But today, inadequate funding, poor management, government's insensitivity, lack of public-private partnership and appointment of non-librarians as board members of library concerns, have combined to kill public libraries.

It is therefore no surprise that the reading culture has been on the decline, as students prefer the short cut route to success while those who are ready to study get discouraged by the paucity of books in libraries. The advent of social media has also affected the reading culture as a result of misplaced priorities by students who spend a better part of their time on the internet either chatting, playing games or watching movies, rather than taking advantage of the vast instructional materials available online for self development.

The evidence of all these is the mass failure in all our examinations, from Senior School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) to the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME). Available statistics reveal that the percentage of students who obtained five credits, including English Language and Mathematics in the May/June WASCE from 2007 to 2012 ranged from 23 per cent to 39 per cent. Such is the level of our educational decay that a score of two over 200, a mere one percent, is now enough to secure admission for some pupils into the Federal Government Colleges!

This poses a problem in Nigerian tertiary institutions, as our institutions of higher learning continue to churn out graduates that are best described as unemployable. The alarm recently raised by the Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brigadier-General Nnamdi Okorie-Affia that some corps members could not properly read and write, which has caused many employers to opt for graduates trained abroad can be directly related to the current unemployment rate in the country.

The onus is now on government and other stakeholders to overhaul public libraries to prevent their total collapse and curb poor academic performance occasioned by poor reading culture. Public libraries should be stocked with up-to-date volumes of relevant books; and in collaboration with professional associations, government at all levels should set up virtual libraries in all local government areas across the country.

Individuals, corporate organisations, educational foundations that operate private libraries, build libraries in communities or donate books to schools' libraries should be encouraged to do more so that collectively, the country can develop libraries with up-to-date facilities so as to address the problem of mass failure and declining reading culture among the populace.


Article Credit: Thisday live

Updated 5 Years ago

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