School Libraries Bereft of Books & Readers [Archives:1998/17/Reportage]

April 27 1998

Ahlam Al-Mutawakil,
Yemen Times
Organized by the Arab Organization for Education and Culture (AOEC), the Yemeni National Committee for Education Culture and Science (YNCECS), and the Ministry of Education, a seminar on school libraries was held during 20-22 April in Sanaa. The seminar was attended by the Deputy Minister of Education, Eng. Abdulmalik Al-Maalami; the YNCECS Assistant Secretary-General, Ms. Khadeeja Radman and a number of school librarians and educationalists.
“Such seminars are very important so that school activities will not be limited to the set curricula, variety of education sources is very important too,” said Mr. Al-Maalami. “School children must benefit from reading books and other publications,” he added.
School libraries in Yemen are almost non-existent, so this issue is in great need of discussion, planning and implementation. Raising awareness among students, teachers and the general public regarding this very important school institution is crucial.
Ms. Radman said: “A comprehensive survey was conducted last year by the Ministry of Education which showed school libraries are very badly stocked. It is one of the YNCECS top priorities to provide books, organize training courses for librarians, and improve the general conditions of school libraries.
“This seminar concentrated on the standards of school libraries in Yemen, in comparison with Arab and international criteria.”
Mr. Abdulmumin Al-Hirbi, the Libraries and Social Education Adviser at the Ministry of Education, emphasized: “This seminar is a good initiative taken by the AOEC because the library is the educational soul of the school. It enhances the curiosity of the students and their love of knowledge. In spite of that, many school administrations neglect their libraries.”The research papers submitted by the participants included such diverse topics as;
– The Reality of School Libraries by Abdu M. Al-Mikhlafi, Sanaa University;
– The Bases and Criteria for Organizing School Libraries by Mohammed S. Noman, Sanaa University; and several other pertinent subjects.
The participants also discussed the relationship between the school library and the formal curriculum.
1- School librarians must be scientifically trained and qualified to be able to efficiently do their jobs.
2- The relationship between school librarians, teachers, and the administration must be enhanced and developed.
3- Students must be developed in body and mind.
4- The role of the school administration and the relevant educational bodies in creating good school libraries must be emphasized.
5- The AOEC should be called upon to create a special body to study library education in order to determine the principles and formulate the necessary ideas for creating good school libraries.
6- International publications on school libraries must be reviewed and closely studied in order to formulate a clear and complete Arab philosophy regarding this issue.
7- An educational strategy must be prepared to develop all kinds of educational activities on all academic levels.
8- More incentives should be provided for school librarians.
9- The government should be called upon to establish a central library in every governorate to supply individual school libraries with their needs.
10- The financial resources of the school should be better invested to serve the cultural activities of the students.