School Libraries in Morocco: Sorry! Service Unavailable
By Larbi Arbaoui
Morocco World News
Taroudant, September 8, 2012
Nearly all Moroccan middle and high schools are equipped with buildings holding the name “library,” or “multimedia room.” These rooms are built and equipped with books, electronic educational tools and computers to provide, theoretically, learners with an easy free access to sources of knowledge and skills to sharpen their competencies inside their educational institutions.
Unfortunately, only a few of them are practically serving the goals they were created for. Most of them are locked or used as stores for broken useless devices in the school. why all of these chairs, tables, books and computers which had been bought are subject to dust and decay in locked libraries without giving way for learners to take advantage of them?
No one denies the crucial role of the school library as it plays a central role in the educational institutions for all school communities. For students, it provides resources related to their school subjects, research tools and a motivating workspace for learners to work collaboratively in groups.
I realized how a far cry we are, with our actual conceptions and uses of libraries in our schools, when I came across the definition of UNESCO of school library. According to the UNESCO “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.” If only those in charge of our decaying educational system read this passage.
The educational system that is applied in Morocco since the launch of the National Charter for Education and Training, as indicated in the charter, gives great importance to school libraries and multimedia rooms. Yet, no measures are implemented to secure the well functioning of these libraries. Many books, computers and various interesting educational tools are sent to schools for being used by students in the so-called multimedia rooms and libraries. But in the absence of enough personnel who would be in charge of those rooms, they turned into stores.
Again, the new reform no longer considers students as passive learners as they were thought of before; it rather treats them as active thinkers and autonomous learners. For this reason, school libraries have to be at the disposal of students to provide them with necessary tools to develop their skills and competencies, enabling them to succeed in their educational career and prepare them for assuming responsibility in the real world.
Unlike a few institutions, which have taken the initiative and made this place of knowledge a haven for motivated students, many middle and high schools cancel the vital services of these libraries that are already brushed aside in the education system in Morocco.
If we are preoccupied with the right of Moroccan learners to learn under the terms of educationally proper conditions, as dictated by international conventions and organized by decrees, national laws and social norms, it is not only necessary to open libraries and multimedia rooms throughout the year, but to afford enough staff and training sessions for students to make good use of those educational spaces.
Through revitalizing the services of libraries, Morocco can improve education and increase the quality of students that will easily adapt to market requirements and can smoothly integrate into the socio-economic world.
It seems that we always have to wait until the first Friday of every October, which is dedicated to the school library, to see those buildings open and hear the heads of schools read the monotonous refrain that runs “we are here to celebrate the library day and to draw students’ attention to the importance of reading…..” sadly, we have to wait again until October to sweep the dust over those books and piles of electronic devices.
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