The training of teacher librarians and the development of school libraries in KwaZulu-Natal were the focus of research by UKZN staff member Dr Siyanda Kheswa who graduated with a PhD in Information Studies.
Kheswa evaluated the effectiveness of the Advanced Certificate in Education School Library Development and Management Programme (ACESLD) by tracing educators who have graduated from the programme and determining its impact on their work as teacher librarians and the development and management of their school libraries.
The study found that the ACESLD Programme had encouraged teacher librarians to contribute to the development of their school libraries and they used the knowledge and skills gained from the programme.
Kheswa noted that ‘the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education’s Directorate of Education Library and Information Technology Services (ELITS) had a much broader role to play given that its focus is not only the provision of access to functional school libraries but also necessitates that it provides library-related professional development and support for targeted schools within the province.’
The study also revealed that in the absence of full-time teacher librarian posts in schools, the teacher librarians should have their teaching workloads reduced to afford them more time to focus on maintaining a functional library service. ‘With more time at their disposal, the teacher librarians would be able to instigate collaboration with other educators to integrate the curriculum and library resources. They would also have the time to teach information literacy skills, reading for understanding and digital literacy,’ said Kheswa.
He recommends that the Directorate compile a report on the progress ELITS has made regarding the school library development in KwaZulu-Natal. ‘ELITS should conduct extensive monitoring and evaluation to determine if the teacher librarians are maintaining the school libraries, given that they were provided with the initial resources to develop school libraries.’
Kheswa thanked his family, friends, work colleagues and his supervisor for their unwavering support. ‘I am grateful for their constant support throughout this journey.’
His grandmother Eslina Kheswa said: ‘I am proud of Siyanda. His late mother, Nophikelelo and grandfather Wilson would be very proud of this achievement given their love for education. I remember when Siyanda was in Grade 1, he never wanted to be late for class and would run to school without having breakfast. I just knew that there would be a good outcome or reward for that dedication towards learning. We have a doctor in the family!’
Offering advice to other students on the importance of discipline and hard work, Kheswa said: ‘Remember that research is an ongoing process, not an event, so it will take time and needs you to be committed and dedicated to your study. There is no study without a supervisor; hence they need to be part of the journey from developing a research topic to the submission of the final copy for examination.’
What are his future plans? ‘I am a life-long learner. I will continue learning and growing through publications and the production of masters and PhD students. I have ambitions of being a professor, so I plan to work towards that goal. I would also like to empower society by sharing my knowledge and expertise in library and information science, especially information literacy and school librarianship, and improving our education’s standard and quality.’