Published: 09th June 2022
Push for reading is great, but what's the point if there are no librarians in Kerala's libraries?
There are a total of 16,786 schools (LP, UP, high school and higher secondary school) following the state board in Kerala
The Government of Kerala has been organising campaigns to cultivate reading habits among youngsters. However, the very venue which offers a platform to cultivate reading habits among students remains under-used. It is sad to see that the schools following the state board in Kerala have no librarians. The absence of librarians, in turn, has made libraries mere rooms with a few books gathering dust.
There are a total of 16,786 schools (LP, UP, high school and higher secondary school) following the state board in Kerala. "However, none of these schools has neither scientific libraries nor qualified librarians," said Dr AT Francis, professor and head of the Department of Library and Information Science, Rajagiri College of Social Sciences. According to him, the Khader Committee, which had recommended structural changes on bringing school education under a single directorate, had strongly advised the establishment of functional libraries with facilities, resources and qualified librarians.
"But, that has not happened," he said. "Instead, subject teachers are forced to act as librarians once in while," said Dr Francis. 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 added. According to him, under the special rules of 2001, a librarian's post was created in the higher secondary schools. "However, none of these posts has been filled to date," he added.
Dr Francis said, "The lack of reading habit among the students in the government, aided and some of the unaided schools in the state is very visible from their poor performance in the competitive examinations." Many of these kids who come in for higher studies don't even know how to use the libraries, he added. "The same can't be said about those students studying in boards like CBSE, ICSE," he said.
Libraries are a must, especially in the government and aided schools, said a principal of a government high school in Kozhikode. "The children who come to study here can't afford to buy books from the outside and read. Even in the case of extra reading materials that will help them clear the competitive examinations, these kids remain unfortunate. But this can be solved if the schools have functional libraries," said the HM.
According to him, the schools had been making several representations to the state government seeking the filling of the librarian posts. "But all that we have been hearing for the past 22 years is that these appointments will cause further strain on the exchequer," he added.