As part of a wider research project, I’ve been interviewing parents in Tease about their perception of the newly created Reading Spot (which has now been open for two months, under the community’s leadership). The research project is mainly focused on literacy as a social practice and the symbolism of the library within the community, but here are some comments from Tease parents about the benefits of the library in the last two months (they also gave us lots of suggestions for improvements which we are also working on!):
“In fact I feel very proud. Even the edifice alone. When you enter the town and you see the edifice you see that you are entering a community which has education at heart. It hasn’t been here for long but I believe sooner or later it is going to change the lives of some of us, especially our children. At the Primary level some of them are not able to read, let alone write. But by visiting the library regularly we will be able to improve their reading and writing skills.”
On the impact of solar: “Initially there was no light when the clouds were gathering and so I had to leave earlier than I hoped. Now there is light I can come here any time. The environment is so quiet – a very serene atmosphere. You can come here any time and do your thing and leave the troubles at home. Come and sit here, take some books to read, whilst you broaden your knowledge and forget your problems too.”
“You will see with these facilities, it is a kind of development in the community if you have a library. When you come to Tease or you come to Afran Plains, it is not all the communities where you have a library – so if you have a library it is a type of development project in the town. It enhances the reputation of the town.”
“It is promoting our literacy rate. I normally call it ‘literacy room’ – if you go there you will begin to understand English, and use new words next day. Speaking in English has become a problem in Ghana. Most of us are not good. So helping beginners like this it does help. It is represents education – it is for the educators – those who want to learn and know how to read and write, those people can go there. So it is an education doctor. ”
“I would say that in this area in the evening you will see the boys and girls standing in the dark doing unnecessary things but since the library came here it has reduced a little bit if children would like to come here to study instead of spending time outside with their friends doing nothing. So it has reduced those people who go out to chat for nothing to come here to study. Since the library came in my special instance, if there is a library we will all move here and study in the library and come here and study at their own pace before coming to the classroom. And other people in the community in their own free time will also come here to read on their own, so it has helped people to enjoy reading.”
“It has been helpful to us in the sense that nowadays everyone in his or own free time will come here so I will say it has improved the standard of the living in this area, Tease, because at first when there was no library in your free time either you sit with your friend to chat or nothing but now I was not doing anything so I decided to come and take a book to read. So I would say it has improved our standard of living in this town.”
“This is the first time since I came here that we are having a library of this kind in this town. I think as time goes on the community will see the importance of the library. And if they see that will help to bring something extra or not, because you have put on this building, so many books have been put inside. The books cannot read itself! It is there for the people to do and read. So if the people don’t go to read it has no benefit. So I think this is the beginning. If the people know the importance of the library and they started using it, that will encourage you also, to bring something extra. So I think this is the beginning, so let’s see how the people patronise the library.” (Alongside some good advice on asking the chiefs to educate the parents).
“It has benefits for the community. It helps the youth and the young ones in it so that we can research the things that we want to do for the course that you feel like doing, you can go there and do the research or sit there in read and know what the whole world is talking about. Even in society we don’t know much but we go there and we will see that there are newspapers and know things there and we can read and know what is happening in the world. It helps us a lot, seriously.”
A primary school teacher, Anthony, teaching pupils how to read after school, voluntarily.