The importance of a well-equipped school library to quality education was recently underscored when a Lagos-based organisation donated new library to Ikeja Senior High School, Ikeja. Olaseni Durojaiye writes
The school library is not integral to learning; it is the heart of the school as it aides both teaching and learning which explains why it is pivotal to developing the 21st Century learners as it provides a model for inquiry learning and building knowledge and confidence in seeking and processing information. Interestingly, there is a growing body of proofs showing the impact of the school library on students’ academic development and achievement.
Besides benefits to students, a well-equipped library is a fundamental resource centre that also provides support for the teaching staff. Scholars hold the view that a school library reflects and encourages collaborative learning and sharing of ideas just as research shows that the reading scores for students in schools that focus on improving their library programmes are, on average of eight to 21 per cent, higher than similar schools with no such programmes.
As important as school libraries are to learning and teaching, the state of libraries in public school leaves much to be desired. While some schools lack well-equipped libraries, others simply do not have. Many schools boast of reading room in the name of library as many of the libraries are too small and often congested making them not conducive for learning.
This was the case with the school library at Ikeja Senior High School, Ikeja, Lagos before the intervention by X3M Ideas, a Lagos-based advertising agency which decided to donate a well-equipped library to the school as part of its yearly corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme.
THISDAY gathered that, before the new library was renovated, equipped and handed over to the school management for the use of the school community, the school shared a single room library with Ikeja Junior High School. It was further gathered that the former library was too small to adequately serve the two schools and lacked enough text book resources to cater for the study needs of the students from the two schools that it was meant for.
That has however become history with the donation of the new library by X3M Ideas.
The new library comes with comfortable, four student apiece workstation-like study desks. Each unit has spacious leg room and wide enough table-top that affords convenient reading. Besides, the demarcation at the top of the table forecloses distraction, interferences from other users on the unit and, affords personal space and some measure of privacy.
A tour of the library revealed well stocked book shelves and well arranged seating arrangement. The books and text books on display cut across different subjects from arts, commercial and science subjects. The books bore subjects like agriculture, biology, chemistry, additional mathematics, commercial studies, home economics, integrated science, literature and physics among others.
The Librarian’s table is strategically positioned directly opposite the entrance to the library. A desktop computer monitor and keyboards seat on the table while the Central Processing Unit sits below the table top. From the vantage position, the librarian is able to monitor goings on inside the hall.
A staff of the Ad agency who craved anonymity told THISDAY that “We always put our CSR project in the budget every year, and then we begin to save towards it from the beginning of the year. It’s a tough choice especially at this moment of technical recession and when other agencies are cutting cost and downsizing; but our CEO believes that it’s a choice that must be made. Whenever he talks about the projects he’ll ask us which is the better choice; should people consider how hard it is to spend the money on such laudable project or how harder the future of those children will be without quality education.”
While performing the official tape cutting to declare the library open for use, Tutor-General and Permanent Secretary, District Six, Lagos State Ministry of Education, Mrs. Amidat Anifowoshe, commended the donor company and praised its courage to commit to the project at a time the nation’s economy was experiencing a downturn and businesses are cutting costs as against incurring more cost.
But it was the narratives of the school’s Principal, Mrs. Ibidun Olawuyi that best captured the mood of the school community. Her narration recalled how the library came to be:
“Since I was posted to this school as the Principal, having a befitting library has been a burden in my heart. The school shares the existing so called library with junior school and this had made it difficult for an effective use of the library by both the students and staff of the school. Today, I thank God; that burden has been lifted and we now have a well furnished library for the school, all courtesy of X3M Ideas Company,” she stated.
Continuing, Mrs. Olawuyi recalled how the project came about thus: “It all started in June upon my resumption from a casual leave when the Vice Principal Academics came to brief me that a young man named Nnamdi Okeke came to the school and asked what the school lacked with a view to assisting. According to her, she told him of the needs for computers and a school library. I immediately took the offer of a school library.
“Nnamdi came back as promised and we got talking. Like a dream come true here we are today, inaugurating the library. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to God Almighty, who sees and grants hearts desires as He has by this granted one of my desires for the school. I also want to express my profound appreciation to the management and owners of X3M Ideas for promising and fulfilling the promises so promptly that it seem like a dream. The whole project took about two months to complete and I am aware it costs millions of naira,” the Principal recounted.
Speaking with THISDAY shortly after a tour of the newly inaugurated library, Chief Executive Officer of X3M Ideas, Steve Baba-Eko, explained that the project was borne out of the conviction that providing the students with quality education is the best way of guiding them to become good citizens and leaders in future.
“We are doing this because providing quality education for the children is the best way to groom quality future leaders. Education saved people like me. Why I am able to be where I am today or do what we’re doing today is because I am educated.
“Today, anybody can get educated. However; it’s not just about education but the quality of the education. That was why we decided that in our own little way we will meet the government of Lagos State or any other state halfway in the provision of quality education for our youth, especially those in secondary schools because if we fail to do so the quality of leaders that we will have in future may not be what we will be proud of,” he explained.
Speaking further, he stressed “Last year we went to the boys’ reformatory home, we looked at their sanitary system, you cannot reform anybody in those conditions, so we provided them with a brand new toilets system, new bathrooms complete with lighting systems. We are not just talking to children from well off home or school, we are also talking to children from indigent homes and who are in conflict with the society. So we shall continue to find new ways of engaging with them from different backgrounds,“ he concluded.
Some of the students who braved the ongoing end of session holiday to grace the inauguration could not hide their elation. The joy they exuded can be likened to that of a traveler in the desert – travel weary, tired and thirsty – then came upon an oasis.
One of the students, Elizabeth Ayodele, captured the mood of her colleagues in her vote of thanks. “On behalf of the students of Ikeja Senior High School, I say a big thank you our donor, X3M Ideas for the new school library. The well-equipped library will be of immense benefits to the student population. It will enhance our reading culture and have great impact on the academic performance of the students. I promise that we are going to make effective use of the library. Once again, thank you X3M Ideas, and may God Almighty in His infinite mercies continue to bless the company,” she said.
The teachers were not left out in the gale of excitement in the schools. One of them told THISDAY that “Students and their teachers need library resources and the expertise of a librarian to succeed. School libraries help teachers teach the children better because we are able to go in there to research; sometimes too we ask the students to go in there and read up some topic then return to the class room to engage in interactive session.
A school library functions like a resource centre that supports school programmes as well as the teaching and learning process. School libraries serve students by providing materials to meet their various needs and encouraging independent reading and the use of libraries,” she stressed, adding that “That’s why we are so delighted. We’re indeed grateful to XTM Ideas for this donation; it will certainly impact our work and the performances of the students going forward,” she stated.