South Africa: The Struggles of a Librarian in a Barely Literate South Africa

opinion

The importance of libraries cannot be over-emphasised, especially when you consider that six out of every 10 South Africans older than 16 live in households without a single book.

My favourite part of my job is when I go out into a community to attend the opening of a new library. I get excited about the opportunities and possibilities that a library represents to the community - especially to the children. The role of libraries has long since changed from being purely keepers and preservers of books. Now, many libraries are vibrant spaces that facilitate information sharing and life-long learning opportunities with an emphasis on serving the community.

The importance of libraries cannot be over-emphasised, especially when you consider that six out of every 10 South Africans older than 16 live in households without a single book, according to a recent survey by the South African Book Development Council. Considering the positive effects that reading and access to books have on creativity and language skills development, this is a crippling shortcoming.

Lack of access to reading materials and textbooks has been identified as among the main reasons that 78% of South African children in Grade 4 cannot read for meaning....

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