School libraries in India: present-day scenario.

Author:Mahajan, Preeti
Position:Report
 
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Introduction

The education system in India is based on the British system of education. The Government of India lays stress on education for all. The directive principle contained in article 45 states that the state has to provide free and compulsory education for all until the age of 14 years. According to 2001 census, 65% Indians are literate and almost every child has an access to school with around 95% of our rural education having a primary school within one kilometer of their habitation. The school education in India is at three levels-Primary (classes 1 to 5), Middle (classes 6 to 8) and Higher/Secondary (classes 9 to 12). There are two categories of schools-government schools that are entirely funded by the government and others being the public (private) schools. There are about 888 thousands educational institutions in the country with an enrollment of about 179 millions. Elementary education system in India is the second largest in the world with 149.4 millions children enrolled in the age-group of 6 to 14 years. All the states and Union Territories of India have adopted a uniform structure of school education, i.e., the 10+2 system of education. Higher education is provided by 237 universities, which include 34 agricultural universities, 15 medical institutions, 39 deemed to be universities and 11 institutions of national importance and 8 open universities in addition to 10600 colleges. Education in India is primarily the responsibility of the state governments although the central government also plays an important role in higher education. Though education is in the concurrent list of the constitution, the state governments play a major role in the development of education particularly in the primary and secondary education. Para 11.4 of NPE 1986 states that the investment on education be gradually increased to reach a level of 6% of the national income as early as possible. In spite of the resource constraints, the budgetary allocation on education has increased over the years. As part of the mid-term Strategic Plan and the Millennium Development Goals priorities, UNICEF India is also committed to ensuring quality education for all children.

Role of School Libraries

School is a gateway to knowledge and plays an important role in building up a love for reading. The school library is integral to this educational process. Encouraged at the right age, the children are sure to develop a love for books. "Catch 'em Young" is therefore the motto of the school libraries. According to IFLA/UNESCO School Library Manifesto, "the school library provides information and ideas that are fundamental to functioning successfully in today's information and knowledge-based society. The school library equips students with life-long learning skills and develops the imagination enabling them to live as responsible citizens". It plays this role by selecting, acquiring and providing access to appropriate sources of information. The school library offers books and other resources ranging from print to electronic media for completion of various school projects and assignments, for acquisition of knowledge about a topic taught in class, for finding information about a hobby or current events and news, etc. The school librarian helps the students in finding the books/information on the topics of their interest. The librarians along with the teachers work together to achieve higher levels of literacy. While highlighting the role of the school library as the heart of school, Dr. Ranganathan stated that the school libraries should act as laboratories for students and the librarians should function as guides to help the students in learning and using the books for improvement of knowledge and scholarship.

Standards for School Libraries

The school library is essential for literacy, education and information provision as well as for economic, social and cultural development of a nation. Hence, the school libraries must have adequate and sustained funding for trained staff, materials, technologies and facilities. As the responsibility of local, regional and national authorities, it must be supported by specific standards. Library standards are used to measure and evaluate the condition of the...

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