A Malawian school library: culture, literacy and reader development

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Anderson, J. ; Matthews, P. (2010)

Purpose: This project aimed to investigate the success and suitability of a Western-donated school library in furthering the aims of literacy and reader development in Malawi.\ud \ud Methodology: A qualitative, case study approach was taken using extensive interviews with school teachers and a library assistant at a primary school in Malawi.\ud \ud Findings: Contrary to a common discourse that libraries are of limited value in a predominately oral culture, the research revealed a valuable role in providing sources for sharing knowledge from young readers to the non-literate. Limitations of the library under study included insufficient attention to reader development and inappropriateness of materials for the local context.\ud \ud Practical Implications: The work reveals important shortcomings in furthering global literacy targets through current practice in African primary school libraries supported by international donors and nongovernmental organisations. Recommendations to improve impact are given.\ud \ud Originality: This research is original in representing the voices of school teachers in the debate over the suitability of libraries to the African context and in evaluating the overseas book donation model currently practiced in many locations.
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