Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

Community Junoir Secondary School Libraries in Botswana

Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

Community Junoir Secondary School Libraries in Botswana

Article excerpt

A school library program needs to have certain basic elements if it is to function effectively. These elements are: the facility to house the information sources or instructional materials; a wide range of information sources to support the school's education program; adequate furniture and equipment for the use of the information sources; adequate finance to support the operations and services of the library; and adequate staffing to permit the facilities and information sources to be used to the maximum degree of effectiveness. This article presents a summary of the major findings and recommendations of a study of the library facilities in community junior secondary schools (CJSS) in Botswana.

Background Information

The concept of school libraries in Botswana started during the early 1960s, when the subject began to receive special attention. But it was during the 1970s that actual development began as a result of government development projects. The history of school libraries in Botswana is, therefore, relatively brief and recent; but within a short time most community junior secondary schools (CJSS) in the country received library buildings, staff, and information sources.

By 1963, there were only 10 secondary schools with libraries in Botswana. In the true sense, some of these were not really school libraries. They were mere collections of books, maps, reprographic equipment, and other essential supportive teaching and learning resources (Balesang, 1989). The development of school libraries in Botswana from 1960 to the present day can be attributed to the contributions made by the Government of Botswana, some foreign organizations, and the Botswana National Library Service (BNLS). Since 1962, the British Council, the Ranfurly Book Scheme, the Berkshire County Council, the English-Speaking Union, and the Overseas Development Agency have assisted in the development of school libraries in Botswana through their contributions. These organizations provided funds, library books, and equipment (Phehane, 1968; Bakwena, 1982; Balesang, 1989) to encourage the building up of adequate libraries for teachers and pupils, particularly those in higher secondary classes (Phehane, 1968).

The Bechuanaland Protectorate Development Plan 1963/1968 (1963) mentioned the inadequacy or the total lack of libraries in secondary schools and stated that provision would be made for adequate libraries. Immediately after independence, the government took over all secondary schools. The Ministry of Education and BNLS made arrangements for the BNLS to take control of all education libraries, particularly secondary school libraries and teacher training college libraries. The BNLS provided the staff, and the Ministry of Education provided the book stock (Baleseng, 1989).

In the 1970s, secondary school libraries were still at a developing stage, and library facilities varied considerably. A survey carried out in 1972 indicated that most of the secondary schools that responded had between 2,000 and 3,000 volumes. The recurrent budget allocated by the Ministry of Education was P3 (3 Pula) per pupil (Raseroka, 1980).

So far, there was no provision for full-time school librarians in most secondary schools. A teacher, assigned responsibility for the school library, was given a lighter teaching load to provide time to spend on library work. Student library assistants usually performed simple routine tasks. It was planned that BNLS would eventually provide staff to secondary school libraries (Raseroka, 1980). Since its inception in 1968, BNLS had regarded the development of secondary school libraries to be of utmost importance, but lack of staff hampered its work. Nevertheless, it was able to distribute gifts of books to schools.

In May 1969, BNLS, in collaboration with the University of Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland, organized the first training course for school librarians. It was a four-day course that proved popular and was successful (Parker, 1969). …

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