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A case study of foundation phase teachers' perceptions and use of school libraries for teaching and learning in two primary schools in Durban.

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School libraries play an important role in enabling quality education. The implementation of the resourced rich and learner-centered curricula in post-apartheid South Africa necessitates FP teachers to use school libraries. Yet, the lack of resourced functional school libraries as well as the under-utilisation of school libraries is a current issue in South Africa. The purpose of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of how and why Foundation Phase (FP) teachers use their school libraries for teaching and learning purposes. It also included exploring FP teachers’ perceptions of school libraries. The study was located in two primary schools in Durban, South Africa, each with a resourced school library. This study employed a qualitative research design located in an interpretive paradigm. As a qualitative case study of five Foundation Phase (FP) teachers in two schools, the data was generated using a multi-mode approach. Data was generated through a biographical questionnaire, individual structured interviews and a focus group discussion using on an artefact activity as arts-based method. These data generation methods provided a space for the exploration and interpretation of the participants’ experiences of using the school library for teaching and learning purposes. The theoretical framework draws on the attributes of a user-friendly library and a taxonomy of evaluating the use of libraries. The findings reflect that the participants were very aware of the current unequal provisioning of school libraries in South Africa due to the apartheid legacy. The FP teachers were aware of the crucial primary role that the school library played in teaching and learning in the FP yet that it has become secondary due to technological developments. The findings show an organisational culture of reading and library use by both teachers and learners irrespective of a lack of a national school library policy. The FP teachers’ reasons for using the school library is also driven by personal, cognitive and affective choices. A key recommendation of this study is that teacher education providers as well as school management teams should invest in ensuring that all teachers’ are competent library users.


Master of Education. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2016.


Foundation Phase teachers - School libraries., Primary school teachers - South Africa., School libraries - Study and teaching - South Africa., Foundation Phase teachers - School libraries - Teaching and learning., Theses - Education.