By Lydia Kukua Asamoah, GNA
Accra, Feb. 19, GNA - The First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo on Tuesday launched the Ghana Year of Reading, an initiative of the Ghana Library Authority (GhLA), in partnership with other stakeholders, to promote and reignite Ghana's passion for literature.
She also re-launched the mobile library service for the southern sector of the country, opened the new Acquisition and the expanded Book Processing Unit, and unveiled the various books and materials that would support the year of reading agenda into the future.
The Year of Reading campaign is also intended to promote literacy and life-long learning among the populace, especially, among school children at the primary and secondary levels.
It was launched under the theme “Reading for Progress”. The GhLA was established in 1950.
Mrs Akufo-Addo said the theme was very appropriate and timely, in that, in a growing competitive world, life-long learning had become the only way to grow intellectually and build wealth of knowledge.
She said knowledge could only be acquired through reading and so Ghana had no option than to reignite the reading culture in the country for the progress “we wish for”.
She indicated that studies had also revealed that many children in sub-Saharan Africa struggle at the lower primary level to read in the official or any local language, and instances where someone is able to read, they do not understand what they read.
“Its consequences for our development is simply unacceptable. We must build the culture of reading to promote socio-economic and human resource development.
The First Lady noted that the theme also demonstrate the importance of reading, in building the human capital required for the growth of all sectors of the economy.
She expressed the hope that the activities outlined within the Year of Reading would help transform the landscape of reading promotion, as well as efforts to bring library services to Ghanaians.
The Rebecca Foundation acknowledged the enormous responsibility on the library authority and players in the education sector to build a society of readers, and we are committed to our continuous work with the library authority to make it possible for all Ghanaians to benefit from accessibility to learning resources, she said.
She said the Foundation’s launch of the “Read to Learn, Learn to Read” project last year, with two prone approaches of building libraries and undertaking reading sessions with children for Television, were parts of efforts to promote reading and learning habit among children.
She announced that very soon, the first library under the Project would be ready and handed over to the Ghana Library Authority to be part of its network of libraries around the country, to enable children of the community of Bia in Western region to benefit from the enormous resources that will be available.
“My foundation is committed to supporting the Library Authority to increase its geographical footprint in the country and will continue to work towards it.
She commended the Ministry of Education, Management and Board of the Ghana Library Authority, UNICEF and other partners for bringing library back to life in Ghana and the innovation being introduced to get Ghana reading.
She encouraged the Ministry of Education to incorporate library service as a critical component of the educational reforms for Basic schools.
“Research has shown the significant role of School libraries in building a reading culture but it’s unfortunate we have not paid particular attention to this particular resource unit when building new schools” the First Lady said.
Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, Deputy Minister of Education said the government was determined to promote a holistic education and was ready to invest in the Library Authority because of the significant role libraries play in the education sector.
He said the Government, in partnership with other stakeholder, would soon unveil new partnerships in the areas of technology that would lead to equipping all libraries in the country with computers and connect them to the world of internet.
He said the declaration of the Year for Reading called for the need to encourage pupils, students, parents and guardians, and all leaders to promote reading.
“We have to promote reading at Schools, at home and at work places. Let’s all join in making Ghana a reading nation”.
Dr Helena Asamoah-Hassan, the Board Chair of Ghana Library Authority, expressed the Authority’s resolve to ensure that all citizens in the 10 regions have access to adequate library facilities and technologies that would promote reading culture and increase the knowledge base.
She announced that a total of 725, 751 visitors was recorded in 2010 compared to 428,114 in 2017 showing a patronage increase of 297, 637, representing 69.52 per cent.
Meanwhile, 172, 399 library books were borrowed by users in 2018 compared to 102,222 books borrowed in 2017, an increase of 70,177 books, representing 68. 55 per cent.
Mr. Hayford Siaw, Acting Executive Director, GhLA, said the year 2019 had been declared the “Year of Reading” because of the significant role reading plays in knowledge acquisition.
He said efforts were underway to advance the use of technology to make learning resources available to Ghanaians, and thanked all partners for their support for the library.
Mr Siaw said the Year of Reading would also help in creating an enabling environment for learning across the public library network, improve book collection, increase accessibility to reading materials through technology and introduce new access points for the public to engage with GhLA libraries.
Ms Anne-Claire Dufay, UNICEF Country Representative noted that the 2017/18 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) had revealed that only one child out of every five, aged 7 to 14years has robust fundamental reading skills.
The MICS survey also reveals that only seven per cent of children in Ghana in the three to five years age-group have access to three or more children’s books at home.
She urged the government, CSOs, the media and other stakeholders to continue to highlight the importance of reading to help create a literacy-rich environment.