Let’s revamp our reading culture! – SP Women’s League
16 April is an annually celebrated International Special Librarians Day. The commemorations aim to honor library workers, librarians, or to make donations of various forms. Importantly, this day is a reminder of the role of libraries and librarians in promoting the quality of education worldwide.
Reflecting on the role of libraries and celebrating librarians is key to our Zambian context. Today, we struggle with staggering literacy levels of about 55.3 percent, with illiteracy that is much more prevalent among females than males. In order to combat the high illiteracy rates, it is vital that we revive our community libraries, promote a culture of reading, and make reading materials available, and accessible to all.
In the past, Zambia’s major cities hosted vibrant community libraries that provided space to assist people find information and reading materials they needed to learn, space to study, work, or for recreational purposes. These libraries contributed to promoting access to information, reading materials and in inculcating a culture of reading. In the bigger scheme of things, community libraries added value to the quality and development of our education system. Today, our education system and quality of schools are much compromised with a growing gap between urban and rural areas.
Globally, while libraries have evolved, what has happened in Zambia is that either our community libraries have closed down or operate under poorly equipped conditions that disadvantage them to cope and to remain relevant in the fast changing times. While a privileged few have access, most government schools lack access to reading materials or there exists very few libraries in these schools.
Today, we are faced with an unprecedented global health COVID-19 pandemic characterised by prolonged lockdowns and deepening crises. These growing challenges are a reminder that it is in our best interest that we revisit the concept of community libraries and how we can make them more relevant in providing digitalised facilities to aid home schooling, access to reading and learning materials, and information for free and for all. While it is important to maintain elements of our traditional libraries, it is vital that we shift to digital libraries that can be accessed by all Zambians.
All Zambians are equal. Improving Zambia’s quality of education is one of the critical issues that the Socialist Party (SP) is passionate about today and tomorrow. Through the Fred M’membe literacy programme, the SP has reached out to many men and women in both urban and rural areas to promote a culture of learning, reading and writing.
We invite you to think big and join us to realise a Zambia that embraces Justice, Equity and Peace for ALL. Ours is a vision by the humble Zambians for the humble Zambians.