Library in school? What’s that?
Many primary schools in Bengaluru still do not have functional libraries despite it being compulsory in the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020.
Rohit Venugopal, 10, does not know what a library is because his school doesn’t have one.
“We have our textbooks and notebooks. I don’t think we have a library in our school since we never went there,” he informed The Observer.
Meenakshi Kumar, Rohit’s teacher, said limited staff in the school is one of the reasons it doesn’t have a library. “If there is a library, there should be a librarian. The school does not have enough teachers, let alone… a librarian….”
The same is the case with a Government Primary School in Ashok Nagar. Suresh Prabhu Sarkar, a teacher at the school, spoke about how they have limited space.
“Whatever rooms we have, we use those for classrooms. Talking about a library, we do provide books to our children, but we don’t have an independent library as such,” he shared.
Shraddha Kasva, a class IV student, said she loves reading and has books at her home. “No, we don’t have a separate room as a library. But I do like reading books, so my parents arrange books for me from a public library which is near my house.”
Arthi Kasva, her mother, said: “In my opinion, the habit of reading books should be encouraged in every child. It is very important for her (child’s) growth.”
About her daughter’s school not having a library, she said: “Yes, it is unfortunate. I like to read and have seen the habit of reading books in my child. Since her school doesn’t have a library, I or my husband go to public libraries or bookstores and get her books.”
Asked why Shraddha’s school does not have a library, she replied: “Because it is a government school. Most of them don’t have a separate library room, activity hall or playground.”
An education department official who did not want to named said: “We are thinking of merging two-three government schools to create space. We will do that soon.”
The National Policy for Education, 1986, laid emphasis on having libraries in schools and access to books. It spoke about setting up libraries in primary schools so that children are exposed to more information and knowledge from young age.
NEP, 2020, also lays emphasis on libraries and books. It says that online digital book banks should be made accessible to students.
But according to a survey conducted by Samagra Shikshana Karnataka, only 31 per cent of government schools have independent library rooms.
Lack of storage facility, lack of space for a separate room for a library, and inadequate funds to hire librarians are some of the reasons for the lack of libraries.
Shashi Kumar, an educationist and general secretary of the Associated Management of English-medium Schools in Karnataka, said books and libraries are important components in a child’s learning. “But, unfortunately, most government schools do not have them or don’t have an updated library.”
“”Lack of infrastructure and not enough attention towards libraries or librarians is the prime reason,” he noted.
The Karnataka Learning Partnership, a public platform, has a library programme that ensures that every child in every primary school has access to library facilities. But not many schools are aware of it.
A research paper titled ‘School Libraries in India’, published in an e-journal called Library Philosophy and Practice, said school libraries are is essential for literacy, education and information, as well as for the economic, social and cultural development of a nation.