Anyone who endeavours to find out if basic schools in the country have reading as a period, or library time, will be appalled at what they will find.
The painful truth is that there are no books or facilities to facilitate reading as a period. In the absence of copies of reading books, teachers sometimes have to painstakingly write the content of a reading book on the board, page after page, before taking the pupils through.
The situation dramatically changes in private schools within bigger towns and cities, which are better stocked with library and textbooks, largely bought by parents. Here, reading periods are not as hard; and kindergarten pupils learn to read regularly and fluently, and cultivate reading at home.
Even where textbooks abound, teachers exhaust their notes on the board, discuss part of the subjects on the board, and allow pupils to complete the learning at home with their own textbooks.
Beyond this, the habit of reading a book, or buying a book to read, as a leisure activity, has not been easy to cultivate, let alone instilling the habit in the child.
It is this sad situation that has prompted West Blue Consulting, an indigenous IT Solution firm, to roll out a new bold concept in public libraries in Ghana. The library project is dubbed ‘e-Ananse Libraries’.
The West Blue Consult project aims to make 2019 the year of reading, with steps to establish school and community libraries to help increase healthy reading habits.
“The culture of Ghanaians not reading has been with us for long, mainly because we do not have a proper school library system,” – Stevie Nii-Adu Mensah, Author of ‘It’s Cold oo’ said in an interview with The New Publisher at an interactive storytelling session last Wednesday.
He explained that in many countries, getting people to read starts from schools. He said he and his team are bent on using the library transformation program to help develop the country.
Considering the poor reading habits in the country, e-Ananse Libraries is set to visit the district and municipal assemblies and see how far they can help in the building of libraries for some towns or communities.
Apart from reading, Ms. Silvia Arthur, Consultant for the e-Ananse project, believes career awareness can help students to make important decisions about their lives, stressing that this could prevent them from being social deviants such as armed robbers, drug users and peddlers and going into prostitution.
In her view, if career awareness programmes are given the necessary attention in educational institutions; it would also help reduce the high rate of examination failures.
On the need to motivate children to read, Stevie Nii-Adu Mensah, Author of ‘It’s Cold oo’, called on parents to sponsor their children by way of cash awards or incentives, whenever they complete reading a certain number of books.
He urged parents to again place a high premium on the education of their children, saying ”education is the only property that can be given to our children, and this is not like investing in properties, which can result in family disputes”.
Even though he was saddened by the falling standards of education in the country, he expressed hope that ”as a development-oriented person, I am leaving no stone unturned to reverse the trend, at least in Ghana. I wish to call on government, and all other individuals to support”.
The e-Ananse Libraries are to help revitalize Ghana’s reading culture and provide people with the tools to compete in the 21st Century by giving them access to high-quality contemporary literature, state-of-the-art computing facilities, and world-class literary events.
The first of West Blue’s e-Ananse libraries, which was opened at Osu, a suburb in Accra recently, has a core collection of contemporary and classic fiction and non-African descent books, as well as other collections, including beautiful children’s books on poetry and professional development.
Interestingly, each library will have an e-Ananse technology hub, christened the Innovation Hub, which will be equipped with internet-enabled PCs. This would give library-members access to the full range of resources available on the World Wide Web.
The center also has a Wifi Connectivity that patrons can log on to and work independently. Apart from that, each library will have an Ananse Amphitheater, an outdoor space where programmes of live literature events, such as author readings, spoken work and movies take place.