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The study was carried out to trace and document the history of agency involvement in the development of primary school libraries in Southeast Nigeria over a thirty year period. It looked at the contribution of agencies during the period of 1980 to 2010 and, it looked at the successes and the factors that limited the agencies efforts. In carrying out this research work, five research questions guided the study, which adopted historical design. The accessible population of this study comprises fifteen agencies in the five states of Southeast involved in the development of Primary school libraries during the period. Purposive sampling technique was used in getting twenty respondents who made up the sample size for this study. The instruments used for collecting data were documents and structured interview. The examination of archival documents was apt as it has to do with events that occurred in the past, while key players who worked or are still working in the agencies identified were interviewed.  The results of the study showed that professional associations were very active in the 1980s to early 1990s. The activities that were in place then were awareness campaigns, training of teacher librarians, placing of jingles, lobbying of government and collaboration with other agencies. This helped in getting to the grassroots of library development but their activities dwindled from about 1990. It was found that government agencies took the lead in library development from the late 1990s but were not as effective as the professional associations and other informal agencies. Again, the study revealed a regression in school library development in later period when the professional association’s activities dwindled. In view of these, it was recommended that the spirit of professionalism be reawakened by revitalizing professional associations as the study has revealed that it worked in the past and will still work again if tried. It was recommended that public libraries should be revitalized so that the supportive role they played in the past is used again. Other recommendations were made and finally, areas for further research were suggested by the researcher.




Background of the Study

            The establishment of a library is crucial in any educational institution, most especially primary school education which is the foundation for all levels. This is so because it supports the curriculum and enables resource based learning, which in the long run makes for lifelong learning. Consequently, the development of school libraries becomes very important.

School libraries are resource centers where teachers and pupils get materials for teaching and learning. They also serve as lending and recreational centers for the students.         The variety of resources in primary school libraries include textbooks, information books, picture books, beginning readers, juvenile readers, periodicals, reference materials, audio- visual materials, toys and electronic resources. They offer different kinds of services which, according to Dike (2002), include reference and information services, lending services, recreational services, information skills instruction, reading guidance and promotion.

School libraries with their resources and services support the curriculum, they also create room for resource based learning .In addition to this, they provide opportunities and resources for reading promotion. A well equipped school library provides room for interaction with library resources which will make way for the development of information literacy skills. School libraries, especially primary school libraries are very crucial for the achievement of functional education in Nigeria.

History reveals that school libraries have a major role to play in the proper education of pupils in primary schools and in achieving the objectives for which primary schools were established. Primary school education, as referred to by the National Policy on Education in section 3(3) Nigeria, (2004), is the education given in an institution for children from the ages of 6-11 years. The primary level is the key to the success or failure of the education of an individual since the rest of the education system is built upon it {Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004). Primary education plays a vital role in the entire education of an individual. This is because this stage of development is crucial for the development of future adult citizens and workers. Just as a child cannot stand up and walk from birth, so one cannot develop without primary school education (Usoro and Usanga, 2009). In fact primary education is the foundation upon which the rest of our educational system is built (Lynch, 2007).

            The mission of education for children in primary school is connected with the general objectives of education which advocate for learner-centered education, self-directed learning, active and inquiry-based education and life-long education. This goes to explain the emphasis laid by the National Policy on Education (NPE) on enhancing the educational system right from primary education (Akanbi, 2009).  Primary schools seek to help children expand their knowledge of the world around them. They emphasize reading, writing, listening and speaking, as well as understanding and using number and character development (Sterberg, 1990). Primary school education if properly given nurtures the child and prepares the child for greater tasks ahead. On this note, Daniel (2003) asserted that a nation which ignores its children is the unluckiest of all and “if the seed or the soil is not of proper kind that the harvest can never be of high quality”. This infers that primary school education should be a nation’s priority as it is the key to all levels of education.

            The philosophy of the National Policy on Education emphasizes the creation of sound and effective citizens and the provision of equal educational opportunities for all. Its general objectives are: the inculcation of national consciousness and national unity; the inculcation of the right type of values and attitudes for the survival of the individual and the Nigerian society; and the training of the mind in the understanding of the world around and the acquisition of appropriate skills, abilities and competencies both mental and physical as equipment for the individual to live in and contribute viably to the nation. In connection to these general objectives of Nigerian education, the NPE also set forth the objectives of primary school education which laid emphasis on permanent literacy, development of reflective thinking and manipulative skills, and moral training.

            The primary school library helps in so many ways in achieving these objectives. The availability and use of the library by pupils and teachers helps achieve the functional education which the National Policy on Education emphasizes (Dike, 2002). It also helps in promoting modern education techniques which emphasize lifelong education and focus on the learner. The National Policy states in section 3 (subsection 3) that the teaching methods to be employed will de-emphasize the memorization and regurgitation of facts and encourage practical exploratory and experimental methods. School libraries achieve this through the supply of resources and other services for teachers and the pupils.

            School libraries play a vital role in the educational development of children by providing reading and learning materials. The school library has left its traditional form as a custodian of books, to a nursery of intellects. This is because it teaches children to be readers for pleasure and not for passing exams. Daniel (2005) noted that one of the best ways of caring adequately for the mental, moral and physical development of the child is to ensure that the child enjoys all reasonable opportunities to use books, which are the bread of the intellect, and books and non- book materials are found in the library. Children are the future hopes of a nation and if they are not well educated, the whole nation is doomed.

            The primary school library supports the school curriculum. Through the library, the primary school child is exposed to the world of books and other information media by listening to stories read, reading picture books, using educational toys and games in learning concepts, and developing manipulative skills. The primary school child has to be taught the skills of using books and where to look for information on particular topics to facilitate self-learning, and the school library provides all these. To be effectively taught all the subjects in the primary school curriculum require both the relevant information resources and the skills of using them effectively. Elaturoti,(1978) demonstrated how the library can support the primary school curriculum  in social studies  by providing information materials  such as slides, films, filmstrips, tapes, pictures, photographs, posters, specimens etc. Dike (2009) also explained how different themes in the primary science such as color, size, texture, shape, animals, soil, can be taught using a variety of library resources.

The school library is the most effective vehicle for ensuring that children in primary schools acquire permanent literacy, oracy and effective communication. It is said that the literacy rate of a country is the most potent force in economic development affecting all aspects of a country’s culture (UNESCO, 2000).  Dike, Amucheazi and, Ajogwu (2006),  pointed out how children can use resources of the library in preparing project work as a means of achieving literacy include reading skills, communication skills, and writing skills through project work on topics in the curriculum such as marriage, transportation, etc. Children can learn in the process of interview, observation, communication and documentation .Oyewusi (2010) also investigated how libraries help in the acquisition of literacy skills among pupils with disabilities. Through this the school library makes way for lifelong education for all. Sequel to this, Ogbonna (2006) reported that the result of the three national assessments of pupils in primary schools on level of competency in numeracy, literacy and life skills by the Federal Government, the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nation for Economic and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) between 1996 and 2003 revealed that there was a very low level of achievement in literacy skills. This situation can be effectively handled through the services of a school library.

            The school library provides resources such as reference materials that help children discover things for themselves .It also provides instructional materials and books that helps teachers explore for effective teaching. The availability of such materials makes a literacy rich environment. This is because the vehicles carrying information are books and non-book materials.  A child cannot have a basic functional education without a good school library to support the school curriculum; act as a resource centre, recreational centre, and laboratory and as a friend to foster the child’s personal development. The basic purpose of libraries in primary schools is to help the children to increase their knowledge and understand themselves; their fellow human beings, and then the world that is beyond their immediate horizon. Having recognized the role of libraries in primary schools, it becomes imperative that libraries in primary schools are well developed.

            Development is the process of making something better; it is the process of gradual growth. In the context of this work, development encompasses the process geared towards improving the state of primary school libraries. These processes relate to issues of personnel, standards, policy, legislation, collection development, infrastructure, programmes and funding. These issues when worked upon make way for adequate school library development.

            Governments around the world have recognized that libraries help in achieving the objectives for which primary schools were set up and so efforts have been made at developing primary school libraries worldwide and in Nigeria as well.  Recognition of the role of the school library and the movement for its development gained grounds in the 19th century, as reported by Clyde (1999), Dike (1999), Davies (1979) a new educational trend  propounded by John Dewey necessitated a shift in emphasis from old  to new ways of learning,(Gaver,1989). The new ways of learning called for libraries with resources that promote learning. It was pursuance of this new way that fast- tracked school library development in many countries, and this was done through various agencies.

Agencies are organizations that provide a particular service, especially on behalf of other businesses or organizations. It could be a government department that provides a particular service or a non-governmental unit which is rendering some service. Agencies in the context of this work involve institutions, whether government or non-governmental, that are involved directly or indirectly in school library development. These agencies work in different capacities in different countries. For instance, Oberg and Wright (1991) reported that in Canada, library development was fostered by government agencies. The ministries of education made way for new curricular programmes and training of teachers to become teacher librarians to take charge of the library. In South Africa, a non –governmental agency called READ, an independent educational trust funded entirely by donations has developed classroom libraries and trained teachers on new methods of teaching. Likewise, non-governmental agencies like the ATD –Fourth World in France,. the Banco del libro in Venezuella, small libraries for small people in Srilanka, and Portable libraries and children’s literature projects in Thailand. All achieved much in extending library services to disadvantaged children.  School libraries have also been developed through networking, cooperation and collaboration with agencies such as public libraries (Tawete, 1991). In some countries, a strong centralized government and a tradition of concern for centralization in education facilitated the development of school library collections; school libraries also improved through bequeaths and donations from philanthropists.

            In Nigeria, many agencies have contributed to the development of primary school libraries. These agencies include the ministries of education, library boards, professional associations, World Bank, United Nations, International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Educational Trust Fund (ETF), National Primary Education Commission, (NPEC) Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) State Primary Education Board (SPEB/SUBEB), NGO’s, communities and   philanthropists.

            The development of school libraries in Nigeria was first advocated by professional associations, beginning with the West African Library Association (WALA) in 1954. Later on WALA gave birth to the Nigerian Library Association, which had an active section for school libraries in the eastern part of the country. This section began in 1963 as the Eastern Nigeria School Libraries Association, changing its name when East Central State and later Anambra State were created (Dike, 1991). The Anambra State School Library Association acted as a pressure group for school libraries and was successful in having some of its proposals approved by the government. Such proposals include the minimum standard and a library Fee .It also organized refresher courses for teacher librarians, mounted a best school library competition and published the School Libraries Bulletin. Obi (1998) reported that Eastern region of Nigeria made remarkable progress in the development of school libraries due to the work of these professional associations On a national level, the Nigerian School library association (NSLA), founded in 1977, advocated for school libraries with the federal government, provided a forum for school library stakeholders, and advanced the cause of school libraries through conferences and publications.

            The first major federal government initiative was National Primary Education Commission (NPEC), established in 1989 to take charge of primary education nationwide and improve the deplorable state of primary education. The commission showed interest in primary school library development, improving the physical infrastructure in the schools, adding more qualified teachers and providing training for library services in schools. Elaturoti (2002) reported among many others that the commission accepted and sponsored the Abadina Media Resource Centre’s proposal for a national teacher librarian workshop for primary school teachers that would run the libraries set in the schools. The disbanding of the commission led to discontinuation of their efforts in library development, but until the government launched the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme , which took over the functions of NPEC, in 1999 (Okezie, 2006). The UBE also carried on the services of NPEC relating to school libraries and has been at the fore-front in school library development. They have also collaborated with international agencies such as the World Bank, UNESCO and UNICEF, and national agencies such as Education trust Fund (ETF) in developing primary school libraries.

Public libraries have also been involved in school library development through the library boards. The UNESCO seminar of 1953 held at Ibadan assigned some school library functions to public libraries. The UNESCO pilot public library project for Africa based in Enugu State funded the Eastern Nigeria Library Board to develop children’s library services to schools, using book boxes and book mobile services provided by the board (Elaturoti, 1988). Obi (2002) also reported that the Anambra State Library Board and the Bendel State Library Board rendered services such as staff training, and development, supply of books and other materials through book depots and book mobile services, inter-library loan service and, consultancy services. From the 70s, most states in Nigeria had library boards enacted with responsibilities to provide library materials to schools (Elaturoti and Udo, 1986).

It was gathered from literature that a number of events set the stage for primary school library development from the 1980s. The National Policy on education with its emphasis on modern education and consequent implication for school libraries came out in 1979 and was revised in 1981. The Universal Primary Education (UPE) programme initiated in 1976 placed new emphasis on primary education for all and the use of primary education as a tool for national development. In the eastern part of the country, in what is now the South-east Zone, the 1970s brought a number of changes including the creation of states, the government take over of schools, and recovery from the destructions of the Nigerian Civil War. These were followed by a period of dynamic school library development in the 1980s. .Since the 1990s government agencies at federal and state level have initiated a number of programmes for primary school library development.

In spite of the efforts of the governmental and non-governmental organizations towards the development of primary school libraries, the present state of libraries in primary schools is not encouraging. This suggests the need to provide a historical perspective on the agencies involvement in school library development with a view to providing insights on ways of improving libraries in the present time.

Statement of the Problem

            The primary school tier of education is the key to success or failure because it is the foundation of life-long education.  For a child to have qualitative education at the primary level there must be a well-equipped library that will support the curriculum, provide the child and the teachers with adequate learning resources, and provide an enabling environment for learning. It was because of its importance that a number of agencies, both governmental and non-governmental, initiated efforts at developing school libraries in Nigeria.

It has been observed in literature that many agencies have been involved in developing school libraries in the Southeast zone and that these efforts attained a measure of success.  However, despite such involvement, it has been noticed that school libraries are presently in a poor state .It has also been observed that educational standards have fallen and many school leavers are not functionally literate. This state of affairs may be connected to the poor state of libraries in primary schools. This may have accrued from the lack of documentation and emulation of the agencies effort over the years, which would give insight for the future growth and development of school libraries. It is therefore important to look at these agencies which had given rise to functional libraries at a time. This will help in the improvement of primary school libraries that are presently in poor condition.

Posed as a question, the problem investigated in this study is: What was the involvement of government and non-governmental agencies in the development of primary school libraries in the Southeast states of Nigeria from 1980-2010?

Purpose of the Study

            The general purpose of this study is to examine agency involvement in the development of primary school libraries in Southeast Nigeria from 1980-2010. The specific purposes are to:

1.      Trace the factors that gave rise to the development of primary school libraries in South East states of Nigeria from 1980-2010

2.      Identify the agencies that are involved in the development of primary School libraries in South East states of Nigeria from 1980-2010.

3.      Examine the contributions of these agencies to the development of primary school libraries in the South East states of Nigeria from 1980-2010

4.      Identify the factors that promote or inhibit the agencies developmental efforts at primary school library development.

5.      Find out the major achievements and challenges of these agencies in primary school library development.

Research Questions

            The following research questions guided the study:

  1. What are the factors that gave rise to the development of primary school libraries in South East states of Nigeria from 1980-2010?
  2. Which  agencies are involved in the development of primary school libraries in Southeast states of Nigeria from 1980-2010
  3. What are the contributions of these agencies in the development of primary school libraries in South East states of Nigeria?
  4. What are the factors that promote or inhibite the agencies developmental efforts at primary school library development?
  5. What are the major achievements and challenges of these agencies in primary school library development in South East states of Nigeria?

Significance of the Study

The outcome of this research work will benefit the following: Federal Ministry of Education and its parastatals such as the Universal Basic Education(UBE),and State Universal Basic  Education Boards (SUBEBs),  Nigerian Educational Research and  Development council (NERDC),Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), Education Trust Fund (ETF),United Nations Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),United NATIONS International Children Emergency Fund(UNICEF), The World Bank, Professional Associations ,Publishers, Authors, individuals and the communities where the school libraries are situated, the local educational authorities,  teachers, parents and pupils.

The findings of this research work will serve as a yardstick for   governmental and non- governmental agencies in measuring their efforts. This could help them in knowing the policies to make and in knowing the agencies to partner with if any project is outlined for primary schools. International organizations such as UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank will be better informed on how lasting and effective their efforts and other agencies efforts have been over the years and then know which agency to partner with  in developing libraries.

Professional associations that are interested in developing school libraries such as Nigerian School Library Association (NSLA), Nigeria Library Association, (NLA), and International Association for School Librarianship, (IASL) could also benefit, as the outcome of this research will provide them benchmark information for assessing past efforts and improving future performance. Individuals, communities and schools interested in the education of children will also benefit from the results of this study. It is expected to reveal the efforts of different agencies in the development of primary school libraries. This could be useful to individuals and communities in fostering collaborative effort with such agencies in the development of primary school libraries.

Finally the results of this study will be beneficial to researchers who are interested in further research in school librarianship as they could use the findings and the procedures adopted in executing their own research.

Scope of the Study

            This research work is a historical study on the development of Primary school Libraries in the Southeast States of Nigeria. It will document the development of primary school libraries and the agencies involved between 1980-2010. The date of 1980 was chosen because it marked a period educational expansion and the expansion of school libraries following educational reforms such as the national policy on education.. The study is also geared towards delineating those agencies that have played key roles in the development of primary school libraries in the Southeast states and documenting their activities in terms of personnel development, infrastructural development, awareness, policy development and implementation and initiation of library training programmes. It is also geared towards ascertaining the extent of success, and finding out the hindrances to the past efforts and proffering suggestions for overcoming such hindrances for future development.

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