School library resource centres in Iringa and Njombe regions of Tanzania : their status and role in resource-based learning.
Simba, Cornelius Asyikiliwe.
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The school library system is the most valuable facility of the school and an integral part of the educational process and a tool for teaching and learning. This study explored the status and role of secondary school library resource centres in resource-based learning in Iringa and Njombe regions of Tanzania. The role of the secondary school library resource centre in the education process has not fully been prioritized and exploited to support resource-based learning and foster the development of deeper understanding, critical thinking and independent learning through the provision of accessible resources in Tanzania. The problem that this study attempted to investigate was the status and factors influencing the condition of school library resource centres which are essential for resource-based learning and consequently affecting the quality of education that learners receive. Given this problem the study examined the current condition of school library resource centres, factors affecting such conditions, the role of secondary school library resource centres in resource-based learning, and measures which should be taken to curtail the problems that secondary school libraries face. This was done to ascertain whether the practices followed by secondary school library resource centres were in line with the Tanzanian Education (School Library Resource Centre) Regulations of 2002, and to establish what strategies could be adopted to overcome the weaknesses of secondary school library resource centres in Tanzania. The study was informed by the resource-based learning model developed by Manitoba Department of Education and Training. The study used a mixed methods approach and a cross-sectional descriptive survey design. The study involved 140 heads of secondary schools, 36 school librarians, eight District Education Officers for secondary schools, a Zonal Inspector of Schools and a Regional Public Librarian. The types of secondary schools studied included public (community and central government), private, and seminary. The data were collected using questionnaires and semi-structured interview guides. The study found that a majority of secondary schools, 89 (62.1%), had no libraries and of those with libraries, 53 (37.9%), the status regarding infrastructure, staffing, information resources, funding, and services was poor. Such poor conditions are a result of inadequate funding, absence of library committees and collection development policies, failure to implement the education policy and the Education (School Library Resource Centre) Regulations, absence of a national school library resource centres’ policy, standards, and an inspectorate at the Tanzanian Ministry of Education and Vocational Training to coordinate and inspect the school libraries. This study has also found that the secondary school library resource centres were vital in providing adequate and quality resources and professional expertise to enable teachers and learners to effectively use the resources and services to foster critical thinking and lifelong learning. However, their role in the educational process has been hindered by their poor condition and the consequent undermining of resource-based learning.Remedial strategies suggested by the study to address the challenges faced by secondary school library resource centres, included political will and government support in terms of funding, legislation, policy, standards and the establishment of an inspectorate for coordinating and managing secondary school library resource centres in Tanzania. The strategies are reflected in a new model developed for Tanzania.