New schools “struggle” to fill libraries as book grants are cut

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Many newly built schools are struggling to fill dedicated library spaces, according to activists, as austerity measures on earmarked funds for books were cut in the era.

A primary school library fund was previously used to provide new books to libraries in schools across the country, but was abolished in 2008.

Authors and activists have now started a campaign to restore the scholarship, especially for disadvantaged schools.

Children’s Prize Winner, or Laureate na nÓg, Áine Ní Ghlinn said school libraries are a gateway for children to a world of knowledge, imagination, freedom and fun.

“All children have the right to have access to this world, to the gift of reading for pleasure. All children have the right to reflect themselves, their life and their culture in a book, ”she said.

“We have to invest in the future of our children now. We must give every child the right and the opportunity to read. If the future of our children is important to us, we need to see the school library fund reinstated immediately. “

The campaign to reinstate the scholarship is supported by all five predecessors of Ms. Ní Ghlinn as a child prize winner: Siobhán Parkinson, Niamh Sharkey, Eoin Colfer, PJ Lynch and Sarah Crossan.

Children’s Books Ireland, a charity and arts organization that advocates children’s reading, said losing the scholarship 15 years ago resulted in fewer children having access to quality, modern books.

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The charity’s executive director, Elaina Ryan, said many schools have since relied on donations to provide an essential resource.

“Amazingly, new schools are being built with library space provided, but no funding to fill it,” she said. “This year we can change that – by restoring the fund in the 2022 budget.”

At the government level, responsibility for supporting and providing library services rests with the Ministry of Rural and Community Development.

It has already been mentioned that local libraries offer a wide range of resources and activities to help elementary schools develop children’s reading, writing, numeracy, creativity and communication skills.

She claims that all schools can benefit directly from this ongoing collaboration by building on existing partnerships between schools and libraries.

Ms. Ryan said last year the charity submitted nearly 400 applications for its school library fundraising project, 70 percent of which were from non-Deis or disadvantaged schools.

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“There is continuing evidence that working-class girls among nine- and 13-year-olds are just as likely or even more likely than middle-class boys to read every day,” she said.

“If we want to offer equal opportunities to all students, the school library fund must be universal.”

The charity says donating € 10 to each elementary school child in the country to help schools buy books for their libraries would mean a budget of just under € 5.7 million in 2022.

It is said that this “modest investment” can open up a “life of opportunity and excitement for children”.


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