The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has commissioned the first National Children’s Library and a Mobile Library filled with over 1000 books, with a renewed pledge by the government to continue work to close Ghana’s current learning poverty gap and make her a “learning nation.”
The two-storey Library, constructed by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility plans, is the 115th Public Library in Ghana and the 13th in Greater Accra Region. It consists of an Early Childhood Section, a Children’s Library, a Playroom and an Indoor Playground, an Electronic Library, Books/Stationery and Gift Shops, Old and New Books Stores, Multipurpose Community Activity Meeting Hall as well as a First Aid Post.
The edifice will also serve as a model library, where training can be offered to libraries and schools. It is currently filled with 22,000 books, 50 computers, 24 tablets and assistive devices for persons with sight and hearing challenges, according to officials of the Ghana Library Authority.
Speaking at the commissioning in Accra on Wednesday, Vice President Bawumia emphasized that if Ghana is to sustain growth in its economic performance, the need to build a literate society cannot be underestimated. Children in their formative years require consistent exposure to books to build and sustain interest in reading and also for knowledge and Ghana cannot be a learning nation if it does not prioritise access to knowledge resources.
“It is on this premise that the 2018-2030 Education Strategic Plan is anchored: on making Ghana a “learning nation”. Ghana cannot be a learning nation if it does not prioritise access to knowledge resources through the public library system. Since 2017, the government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s investment in the Ghana Library Authority has been visible all over the country,” Vice President Bawumia underscored.
This support, Vice President Bawumia indicated, includes the provision, through GETFUND, of 20 new pickup vehicles for the Authority’s operations, as well as revamping its mobile library services by fixing its vans to be motorable. The government has also increased the personnel of the Library Authority to 532.
Commending the Board, Management and Staff of the Ghana Library Authority for the strides chalked over the past six years, Dr Bawumia maintained that “The ability of children to read and write by the age of ten is the surest way to close Ghana’s current learning poverty gap. It is, therefore, exciting to witness the efforts of the Ghana Library Authority in revamping public libraries in the country and working to address the systemic challenges confronting the State in achieving those goals.”
The Executive Director of the Ghana Library Authority, Hayford Siaw, disclosed that over the past five years, the government has helped increase the number of public libraries from 61 in 2017 to 115 at the end of 2022. Forty-eight out of the 61 libraries inherited in 2017 have received a facelift, creating a conducive environment for learners.
The government has also increased the number of books on the shelves of public libraries from 393,430 in 2016 to 1,281,839 at the end of 2022, a 325% increase in six years.
“We have provided internet connections to 29 public libraries and some 688 computers to support computer literacy initiatives at 67 public libraries across the country.
“The government has also invested in developing and rolling out the Digital Library App, currently managed by the Ghana Library Authority. The App, which is zero-rated by some telecommunication companies, allows every Ghanaian to have access to eBooks, videos, and audio resources. The government relied on GhLA during the COVID-19 school closure period to use this platform to assure learning continuity.”
In a related development, Vice President Bawumia has handed over prizes to the winners of the Vacation Reading Challenge 2022 organized by the Ghana Library Authority in collaboration with Smartline Ltd. The prizes include laptops and books for the schools of the award winners.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD