Western Cape Education Department Invests R156-Million in School Libraries
The project forms part of the national quality improvement, development, support and upliftment programme (QIDS-UP). The School Library Project has already assisted 407 schools in Quintiles 1 and 2 and is investing R43-million in school libraries in Quintile 3 during the current financial year (2009/10).
Education authorities classify schools according to relative poverty in five categories called quintiles. The poorest schools are in Quintile 1 and the least poor in Quintile 5. This year's investment of R43-million includes R32-million for books and related materials, as well as shelving, furniture, computers, library administration software and teacher training. The School Library Project aims initially to provide at least two library resources per learner in each school in poverty Quintiles 1 to 3, in addition to library infrastructure. The longer-term objective is eight items per learner.
District school library advisors, resource centre coordinators and QIDS-UP staff are monitoring the roll out of the project and the use of the resources at these schools, to learn lessons that can be applied to expanding the project further. The WCED has employed a team of 13 qualified librarians this year, who are currently training teachers to administer libraries at 60 schools.
The WCED plans to appoint one library specialist in each of the provinces eight education districts next year to work full time on advising schools on how to establish and manage their school libraries. Meanwhile, schools receive funding for general expenses every year in terms of national norms and standards. The WCED will advise schools to allocate 10% of these funds earmarked for learning and teaching materials for library resources.
The department will encourage schools to celebrate International School Library Month in October to highlight the importance of school libraries in the curriculum and for recreational reading. The WCED also provides specialized guidance and support to all schools in the Western Cape who are establishing and developing their own school libraries, including recommending titles for schools to purchase.
The WCED is well aware of the need to provide libraries and related resources and welcomes all initiatives to support schools and the department in their efforts to achieve this objective. We have to think creatively on how to expand access to these resources in all possible ways. For example, in addition to establishing school libraries in poor communities, the WCED is investing in mobile libraries that are proving their worth, especially in rural areas.
The WCED currently has four mobile libraries, operating in buses in Vredendal, Zoar, Elgin and Khayelitsha. The mobile library in Khayelitsha is believed to be the first of its kind in an urban area in South Africa. It regularly visits between nine and 10 schools in the township. The WCED is investing in three more mobile libraries this year. One of them will operate in the Metropole North Education District, while two will operate in the Overberg Education District. The department is also investing heavily in providing access to digital and online and resources for schools in poor communities.
The WCEDs Khanya Project has installed computer facilities to support teaching and learning at 1 077 schools in the Western Cape so far, and is currently expanding access to computer facilities at a further 103 schools. About 793 000 learners are currently benefitting from the project in the province. Meanwhile, the WCED is working with the University of the Western Cape to provide formal library training for teachers. Teachers can study for Advanced Certificates in Education in school library administration at UWC, funded by WCED bursaries.
Acting Head of Education in the Western Cape
Director of Communication
Western Cape Education Department