The KwaZulu-Natal school library policy and its feasibility for implementation in the province.
Du Toit, Mariana.
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The research critically assessed the KwaZulu-Natal School Library Policy and its feasibility for implementation in the province. In order to provide appropriate perspectives and to contextualise the study, accepted standards of good policy formulation were taken into account, and the educational challenges for the sector and the Library and Information Services field in which policy development and implementation take place were delineated. The study was guided by the following theoretical frameworks, namely a constructivist approach in interpreting and evaluating the role of school libraries within an education system based in constructivist principles, the traditional policy model to evaluate policy formulation and design, and a social constructionist view of policy in the interpreting of policy development and implementation. The epistemological basis for the Delphi technique too, the main methodology used in the study, was social constructivism. The Delphi technique combined expert opinion in order to determine the adequacy of the KwaZulu-Natal School Library Policy and to test the suitability of the policy for implementation in the province. The study set out to systematically collect and analyse the data needed to reflect on the research questions. A research design comprising two phases, with a mix of qualitative and quantitative methodologies was used to explore the research questions. Firstly the qualitative data collected from the Delphi panel's expert opinion and responses was interpreted to analyse the policy document critically and to assess its implementation strategy. Practical implementation problems were identified, as well as gaps in the policy that might necessitate revision. Secondly, quantitative data from an analysis of existing surveys, questionnaires and reports provided an overview of the current state of school library provisioning in the KwaZulu-Natal province, and the school library models already being implemented in the province were evaluated against this background. This study was undertaken in the belief that it would offer a fresh and objective response to the KZN School Library Policy and reflect in an informed manner on its adequacy as a policy document. The chosen methodologies and the data generated enabled the researcher to determine that the policy document and its implementation strategy met, to a large extent, the standards of good policy-making. Practical strategies for and solutions to the challenges of policy implementation in the province were generated. The research results provided sound guidelines for reviewing the policy and the implementation strategy and for developing a more comprehensive strategy for policy implementation which would in turn refine and refocus the provincial policy intervention. The study has brought to the fore several issues that need to be resolved to facilitate school library development in South Africa. These concerns include the lack of support and overall direction from the national Department of Education as manifested in its reluctance to finalise national school library policy, the importance of ICT as a learning tool to provide to all learners equal access to information and finally the general lack of human, physical and financial resources required to achieve satisfactory implementation of the policy. Partnerships and innovative service delivery solutions are required to address the backlog in school library provisioning, even if this intervention takes place initially only on a small scale. In keeping with interpretative research, recommendations are made and ideas put forward for future research.