Lilongwe — The National Library Service (NLS) is striving to meet community needs using literacy as key to unlocking the potential of its surrounding communities through reading corners in all its outlets.
NLS National Librarian, Grey Nyali told MANA that the library, which has 17 outlets across the country, organizes child reading programs in all the outlets as one way of promoting reading among children.
"Our objective is to promote reading and as such once a month we organise child reading programs throughout our outlets to motivate children to read thereby celebrate what it means to be able to read," he said.
He observed that the child reading program is going on well as it has been positively received as seen in the patronage of children reading at the outlets.
For this reason, Nyali said NLS would continue promoting the aspect of reading especially among children so that they continue enjoying reading thereby having a community which is literate.
Nyali appealed to parents to take a leading role in ensuring that children are reading materials they get from school or from the library.
"Parents have a special role to pray in promoting reading and this is what the library is promoting," said Nyali.
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Chief Education Officer in the Directorate of Basic Education, Esnart Chapomba concurred with Nyali saying reading is a pleasurable activity and if used to disseminate information has the potential to bring a new approach to development.
She observed that there is need to develop a reading culture among Malawians as well as promoting reading among children especially in the early grades so that they do extremely well in the upper grades.
She said as one way of promoting reading in the early grades of school going children, government rolled out the National Reading Program (NRP) in September, 2016. Through the program English and Chichewa books have been printed and distributed.
NRP is promoting reading in English and Chichewa in standards 1 to 4.
However, Chapomba said the challenge the ministry faced in achieving literacy was inadequate books which has since been addressed.
"We had a challenge of inadequate books in as far as promoting reading is concerned but we have addressed that now and we have achieved 1:1 ratio as each leaner has a book," she said.
NLS is mandated by an Act of Parliament to establish, equip, maintain and promote reading culture in Malawi. It is for this reason that NLS inaugurated the Reading Promotion Campaign whose aim is to promote reading amongst the young ones.
NLS has supported 20 district councils and 500 primary schools to set up libraries. It also distributes books to more than 2000 reading rooms/libraries in different parts of the country.