In an effort in improve the literacy rate in Namibia, especially in towns without libraries, the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia (MCA-N) initiated a five year project, which entailed the construction of 3 Regional Study and Resources Centres (RSRC’s) in the Oshana, Ohangwena and Omaheke region.
The project, which is now coming to an end, provides access for these communities to books, internet services, small business advice and open government services.
In addition to the centres, there are stable mobile libraries for each region, established so that these services could be used by communities in rural locations. “The mobile libraries were to lend books, provide internet services and used to promote health projects, agricultural forums, legal assistance, electoral services, or any other service required in the rural areas, by linking with other GRN stakeholders” explained Martin Wilkinson Manager of Skill development and study Resources at Millennium Challenge Account Namibia.
He added that although the project was coming to an end, these RSRC’s and accompanying mobile library units will be replicated in the other regions, funded by the GRN, so that eventually all regions will have an RSRC and a mobile library unit.
When approached for comments on the issues of libraries in the country, the Minister of Education Dr. David Namwandi responded, “A reading nation is a leading nation. A leading nation is a successful nation. We cannot have a nation that is allergic to reading. We want our children to have a reading culture”.
Namwandi explained that although the budget does not avail a lot of funds for the libraries, there are funds allocated on a yearly basis for libraries across the nation. He is confident that there are more plans in the future that will include the construction of libraries in towns across the countries, “next week I am going to open a resource center which came as result of partnership with the MCA-N in Omaheke. And it is open to even people from Oshana and Omusati”.
Wilkinson is of the opinion that such facilities will empower the rural communities with knowledge and skills that are essential to reducing poverty and promoting economic growth in the country.
When asked if he thinks the ministry should encourage such projects he responded “Yes, such projects are essential to creating a knowledge based society which is a goal of the GRN and of course the MoE. In removing the barriers to the access to information, the MoE will encourage a reading and internet competent society that has more desire for knowledge due to the immediate availability of the knowledge”.
The availability of libraries across the towns will encourage the increase of literacy rate in the country, especially in the smaller towns. Libraries will give more access to books and internet which in turn exposes people to a great amount of consumable information.
Namwandi said that knowledge is borrowed from reading, “We want to be a nation of great achievers. Nobody will be left behind. We have to cover the whole of the country”.