|Getting Books to School Pupils in Africa - Education Research Paper No. 26 (DFID, 1998, 134 p.)|
|Chapter seven - Conclusions|
One issue arising from the case studies is the increasingly important role NGOs are playing in book provision at the school level. This role is not merely restricted to initiating and financing projects;
NGOs are also involved in day to day management. In South Africa, READ not only manages the purchase and distribution of classroom libraries, but has an extensive programme of training courses, organizes festivals, etc. to promote reading and publishes books relevant to South African needs. In Mozambique, whilst CODE, a Canadian NGO, provided the finance for the 'portable' libraries project, Progresso, a local NGO, was contracted to act as co-ordinator and manager.
The advantages of using NGOs are considerable. They can raise funds from all kinds of sources, ones that are perhaps not easily tapped by government. For example, READ relies very much on the private sector in South Africa for funding. Kenya, where school provision is the sole responsibility of government, this source has not been tapped, although two-thirds of the GDP is accounted for by private enterprise. And funders often find them more directly accountable than large government ministries. READ has managed to maintain its same funders over many years. NGOs are also more flexible in the ways they can operate. They can support local initiatives, as in Mozambique, rather than concentrate on the whole country situation. Decision-making is speedy. They adjust their staffing levels and expertise to the jobs in hand. There is no danger of staffing levels being maintained when the work or the finance for the work has disappeared, as has happened in the school library services of Ghana and Tanzania.
However there is the danger that national Ministries or Departments of Education may be tempted to abrogate their responsibilities towards school level provision. Their support and overall control and co-ordination is still required.
The researcher in Mozambique has pointed out that whilst there is a school libraries section in the Ministry, this has no policy and is without financial and human resources to function properly. The lack of a strong co-ordinating agency means that there has been a poor exchange of information between the various 'library' projects operating in the country. Previous experiences are not therefore used as a basis to move forward.
The government in South Africa is anxious that READ continue its programmes and expand them, into new districts and into high schools. But READ operates under financial constraints. It needs some financial support from the DoE to undertake new assignments. Teachers, who wanted to replenish their libraries in the middle of the school year, also thought that DoE could provide some financial support for this purpose. Financial support, rather than words, in the form of actual annual budgets was also required by TACs and secondary school libraries in Mali.
The introduction of curricula favouring book-based learning must also be the responsibility of government, as is recognition of courses related to the use of libraries, such as those run by READ.