Brazil must build 64,000 school libraries
Brazil needs to build more than 64,300 libraries in public schools by 2020 to meet the goal of making libraries universally available. A national law enacted in May 2010 requires all school leaderships to build up a collection of at least one book for each enrolled student, both in public and in private schools. But with just five years to go before the deadline, 53% of a total of over 120,000 public schools in the country are still lacking libraries and reading rooms. As of today, more than 1,000 school libraries would have to be built every month in order to meet the target by 2020.
Requested by Agência Brasil, the data was provided by the Lemann Foundation, an NGO established in 2002 for the aim of improving the quality of learning for Brazilian students and training a network of leaders to drive change. It is based on information from the 2014 School Census, a yearly survey of all schools in the country.
The data shows large regional gaps in school library availability across Brazil. While 77.6% of public schools in the South region have libraries, in the North, that number gets as low as 26.7% of schools, and in the Northeast, 30.4%. In the Southeast, the rate is 71.1%, and in the Central West, 63.6%. The survey also revealed gaps between elementary and secondary schools – whereas 86.9% of public secondary schools have libraries or reading rooms, in elementary schools the number drops to 45%.
“Children need appropriate facilities to practice reading. Trying to make libraries universally available [within the deadline set by the law] is an impractical goal. So we need to think of ways to provide more spaces for reading and make more content available to students,” said Ernesto Faria, a project coordinator at the Lemann Foundation.
Christine Fontelles, head of the Ecofuturo Institute, runs a project called “Eu Quero Minha Biblioteca” (“I Want My Library”), which helps teachers, school principals, parents, and students request and set up libraries at schools. According to her, resources are lacking across all education areas in Brazil. “We’re a country that doesn’t recognize the value of libraries, one that still needs to understand that educating for reading should be the norm, and that public libraries are instrumental facilities that allow families and schools to help the youth develop these skills,” she said.
According to the 2012 survey “Retrato da Leitura no Brasil” (“A Snapshot of Reading in Brazil”) conducted by Instituto Pró-Livro, school libraries are more important than any other form of access to books for young people aged 5-17. The Ministry of Education reported that setting up libraries is a responsibility of the schools, since public education institutions receive government funding to invest in their facilities and it is up for schools to decide how to spend the money.
Translated by Mayra Borges
courtesy of EBC