We Need to Invest in Functional, Well-Equipped School Libraries

Asser Nakale

In Africa, official languages at national level are often those inherited from colonial powers, including French, Portuguese, or English.

Namibia is one of the countries that adopted English as its only official language.

For some reason, passing English is among the entry requirements for most institutions of higher learning.

Regardless of how well a pupil might have done in other Grade 12 subjects, they have no chance of getting admitted to those institutions if they have not passed English.  

As a result, many pupils who acquired sufficient points from Grade 12 don’t qualify for university because they failed English.

Poor performance in English as a subject can be attributed to many factors, but one of the contributing factors is a lack of functional libraries at school level. Notwithstanding that, libraries exist to cater for a wide range of needs and have a broad selection of resources related to different subjects and not solely English. But this article focuses specifically on highlighting the significance of a school library in fostering learning a foreign language, which in Namibia’s case is English.


A school library plays a crucial role in fostering the overall educational development of pupils, and its impact on learning English, or any other language, is significant.

There are a number of reasons why a school library is important, and how it positively influences learning the English language.
Firstly, a library should provide pupils with access to a wide range of resources, including books, journals, magazines, and online material.

This variety allows students to explore different genres, styles and topics in the English language, thereby expanding their vocabulary and comprehension skills. Many pupils fail English because they lack the relevant body of words and their meaning and cannot comprehend what they are reading.

This is one reason why pupils are more likely to pass specific subjects offered in English but fail English as a language.
Many pupils are good at memorising content, but they lack comprehension.

With English as a subject, comprehension and a broad vocabulary are essential.

Equally important is that a well-stocked library encourages pupils to cultivate the habit of reading.

Regular reading helps improve language skills, enhances vocabulary, and exposes students to diverse writing styles.
This, in turn, contributes to better English language proficiency.


I have observed that too many pupils in Namibia, especially those at schools with no libraries, lack an interest in reading.
Reading consistently can also help boost enthusiasm for the language.

Moreover, libraries complement the school curriculum by offering resources that align with the language learning objectives.

Teachers can leverage library materials to reinforce classroom lessons and engage students in independent learning.

In the absence of a functional, well-stocked school library, English teachers have limited options in terms of teaching and learning resources.

In most cases, teachers are passionate, and work really hard, but limited resources are a hindrance.

In conclusion, it is really sad that there are pupils whose dreams of studying at their preferred institute of higher learning are shattered because they failed a language that is foreign to them.

Given the advantageous impact libraries have on English teaching and learning, along with numerous other benefits, it is imperative for the government to allocate resources towards establishing and maintaining well-equipped school libraries.

If pupils are deterred from attending university because of a foreign language requirement, it is essential to ensure that they at least have adequate resources to support their language learning endeavours.

  • Asser Nakale is an assistant archivist at the ministry of education, Oshikoto region. This article is written in his personal capacity. X: @AsserNakale; Facebook: Asser L N Nakale; laudikanakale@gmail.com

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