The National Library Service (NLS) has received a record MK150 million in the 2021/2022 national budget to enable the service to buy books that will be stocked in its 18 branches spread across the country.
NLS National Librarian Gray Nyali described the funding as “a big achievement worth celebrating”, saying the parastatal has had no allocation for book purchasing in the national budget over the past five years.
Nyali disclosed this during a reading and spelling competition, which was held on Wednesday at NLS Headquarters.
Eight (8) primary schools and two Community Day Secondary Schools from Lilongwe participated in the competition, which NLS organized in partnership with Book Aid International in order to promote reading and as part of a continuation of activities commemorating International Literacy Day, which falls on 8th September every year.
Nyali said the money will enable NLS to buy, for the first time, huge volumes of books that will enhance learning and improve a reading culture in Malawi.
“All along, we relied on United Kingdom based Book Aid International and Beit Trust, who give the parastatal small amounts every year to purchase books, locally. Otherwise, for a long time, we failed to buy books locally. Now, this MK150 million from the government will enable us to do that,” said Nyali.
He said the process of compiling orders to procure the books is already underway.
“This local procurement will enable Malawians to choose for themselves the books they want to read in our libraries. We have put suggestion boxes in our libraries to enable people to drop in the titles of their choice. They have been complaining that they are not able to find the right books that can help them in their studies,” he said.
Nyali commended NLS’ donor partners, especially Book Aid International, saying, apart from being the major donor of books to Malawi, the agency also provides special grants, which the service uses to run various programs at primary school level in order to improve reading.
Another donor worth commending, according to Nyali, is New Zealand based Rei Foundation, which he said is helping renovate MNLS headquarters and improving library infrastructure across the country.
Director of Secondary Education in the Ministry of Education, Florida Banda, who was the guest of honour at the reading and spelling competition, said the MK150 million for book purchasing shows the government’s commitment to empower MNLS and improve reading in Malawi.
“Such is the capacity MNLS requires for it to deliver its mandate to the expectations of the people. As a government, we will capacitate the parastatal with more appropriate resources for we know that a lot still needs to be done for it to provide even much better services,” Banda said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :