WINDHOEK: The Minister of Education (MoE) with the support from the Embassy of Finland in Namibia, launched the “Libraries for Development,” which will run for three years in Namibia, in the capital on Tuesday.
The Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Finnish Library Association funded the MoE with N. dollars 1.1 million for this project in 2012 and N. dollars 1.2 million for 2013.
The project is aimed at supporting the capacity building of the personnel of Namibian libraries in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Information search skills.
It is also aimed at improving distance learning possibilities for out-of-school youth, establishing health corners at libraries while promoting literacy by cooperating with literacy classes.
In his speech, Abraham Iyambo said, currently there are 64 community libraries countrywide of which 29 have ICT access.
The target, he added is to have at least 41 community libraries with internet access by the end of 2012 and have all 64 connected by 2015.
His Ministry is installing computers with internet in the various libraries saying: “ these computers must be utilized, and therefore the urgent need for empowering staff and community members with basic ICT skills.”
He said library staff and community members will be trained in 22 community libraries in various regions, through this project.
The ICT training will target out of school youth and women entrepreneurs and the project will help turn the libraries into modern information centres.
Iyambo noted that there is a need for Namibia to develop the 21st century libraries to become powerful social and economic change agents that will help the country to achieve Vision 2030.
Libraries should support the human capital development identified in the National Development Plan four (NDP4), he said.
Being a signatory to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it would be appropriate for Namibia to align the Public and Community Library services to contribute towards achieving the eight MDG goals.
He further said that with funding from the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA-N) programme, three Regional Study and Resource Centres (RSRC) in Oshakati, Helao Nafidi and Gobabis are being build.
These RSRC will be regional information hubs, he said adding that the building of these regional centres will be extended to the rest of the 13 regions.
“We are striving to build a learning nation with positive values. A learning nation is a winning nation,” he said.
The Education Minister therefore called on all stakeholders to fully embrace the provision of ICTs in libraries in order to tap its vast potential for wealth and employment creation.