Just a decade back students, scholars and even the commoners would dedicate long hours in discussing books, their relevance and impact. All these discussions would centre around the written word and what they hold in store for the civilization.
These discussions not only generated a keen interest among the youngsters but also got them attracted towards the reading culture. However, with the advent of internet and mobile phone culture, the trend has vanished.
As such the reading habit among the students community is waning fast and we as a society are to be blamed for this collectively. Students have been pushed to the use social media and modern gadgetry which is killing their instincts to approach the world of knowledge through books or the printed word.
Most of the time the new generation is seen hung on to the social media and their affiliation with it has gone drastically wrong as the attachment to the modern day social media has turned addictive.
So much so that the new era students have no liking for the printed word and books and libraries that used to be the most sought after just few decades back are on nobody’s wish list.
The phenomenon has also another side attached to it. The government too has failed to convert reading places like the libraries to places of interest, besides no effort is being initiated to make the libraries more attractive and interactive.
Even the up gradation of the libraries and the library culture in schools has always remained a distant dream in government educational institutions. As per norms, the school education department is supposed provide proper library facilities to students at elementary level under provisions of erstwhile Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) scheme. However, implementation of the initiative has been put on the back burner.
Though the education department receives annual grants under erstwhile RMSA scheme from Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to equip schools with proper library facilities, but even this scheme hasn’t been implemented seriously.
More so, the library culture is yet to be set in most of the high and higher secondary schools. The lack of library facilities in the secondary and senior secondary level schools has adversely affected the reading habits of students.
Experts say that the focus of the education department has primarily remained on academics while as improving on the facilities in the library section hasn’t remained a priority.
The annual national surveys over the years have also depicted a grim picture of the schools with regard to the availability of the library facilities in the schools. According to latest survey, not more than 40 percent schools have a library facility for the students.
These schools include also those institutions where the books are available but there is no place called a library and the prized possession; the books have been stored in boxes and cupboards.
No doubt repeated reminders are fed to the Chief Education Officers at the district level but no improvement is being witnessed on this front. The authorities are proving to be lethargic in revamping the library facilities in schools and no new and novel measure is worked on to make libraries a routine and a compulsory feature in schools and colleges.