Govt school libraries gather dust, students lost out on reading

While the state government has been organising campaigns to promote reading habits among youngsters, the reality is that the state board schools lack scientific libraries and qualified librarians.

Published: 13th June 2022 04:32 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th June 2022 04:42 PM   |  A+A-

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Image used for representational purpose.

Express News Service

KOCHI: While the state government has been organising campaigns among youngsters to promote reading, the very avenue for the purpose remains under-used in schools. Sadly, schools following the state board -- especially high schools and higher secondary schools -- have no librarians. And that, in turn, has turned the libraries into mere rooms with a few books gathering dust.

Kerala has a total of 6,574 high schools and higher secondary schools following the state board. Of these, 4,497 are high schools and 2,077 higher secondary schools. "None of these schools has either scientific libraries or qualified librarians," said Dr. A T Francis, professor and head of the department of library and information science, Rajagiri College of Social Sciences.

He said the Khader Committee -- constituted to recommend structural changes to bring school education under a single directorate -- had suggested the establishment of functional libraries with facilities, resources and qualified librarians. "But that hasn't happened. Instead, subject teachers are forced to act as librarians once in a while," Dr. Francis said.

According to a principal of a higher secondary school in Ernakulam, the situation is such that schools have stopped stocking the libraries. "What's the use in buying books when they are not being read?" he asked.

Under the special rules of 2001, a librarian's post was created for higher secondary schools, he pointed out. "However, none of these posts has been filled to date," the principal added.

Dr. Francis said the lack of a reading habit among a vast section of students in the state is reflected in their poor performance in competitive examinations.

The principal of a government high school in Kozhikode said libraries are a must, especially in the government and aided schools, for the overall development of students. "The children who come to study here can't afford to buy books from the outside. This problem can be solved if the schools have functional libraries," he said.

Though the schools have made several representations, the state government has been maintaining that there is a paucity of funds, the principal pointed out.

Meanwhile, A P M Mohammed Hanish, education secretary, said the cabinet will soon take a decision regarding the appointment of librarians in higher secondary schools. "This comes in the wake of a High Court order. However, a case study needs to be done before arriving at a decision on the posts vacant in the high school, upper primary, and lower primary sections," he said.


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