Longer, more secure contracts needed if illiteracy and early school leaving to be combated
A commitment from Government this week in the Seanad that school librarians, who are employed in the Demonstration Library Pilot Project, are to be retained for the coming school year has been welcomed by Fine Gael Senator, and former teacher, Jerry Buttimer who said that if the problems of illiteracy and early school leaving are to be tackled, staff contracts must be put on a more substantive footing than just one-year.
“I welcome the assurance from Minister Conor Lenihan this week, which comes on the back of a highly insensitive announcement from Minister Coughlan earlier that librarian posts were to be cut prior to staff having been notified of the move.
“We have a crisis in education which needs to be combated and any attack on school librarians, especially those involved in the Junior Certificate School Programme (JCSP), in DEIS schools not only in Cork but throughout the country is a short-sighted one on our most disadvantaged and vulnerable.
“If we value education we must ensure that our children are adequately equipped when it comes to reading, writing and the ability to learn by properly resourcing our schools and our libraries. Forcing school libraries to shut is a seriously poor approach to education.
“Many schools are participating in this project and I have had numerous representations from many school librarians who tell me that the JCSP library is the heartbeat of their school and of the struggle they would have engaging the students who use the service if it was axed.
“Many students find the discipline and routine of mainstream education difficult and overwhelming and find it a struggle to keep going. In this project they have a resource and an environment in which they can access books and other educational resources to allow their curiosity and intellect to be developed in a non-competitive and non-threatening way, contrary to mainstream classrooms and examinations. Librarians teach these students the discipline of study and the quest for learning and libraries provide support for schools to address literacy issues.
“I welcome the decision to retain library staff but ask that they be put on more secure and longer term contract than just one year.”