Promoting Literacy in School Libraries in Sierra Leone


The core of information literacy is in the definitions of it. Traditionally , librarians provide ‘library induction’ or ‘library skills training’ in a limited role. Library users must be aware of where the catalogue is as well as what the library’s services are, and most importantly where the enquiry desk is. This isn’t meant to diminish the importance of traditional library induction however libraries and information is also changing. The distribution of information via a library in a traditional format has undergone radical alterations. Today, in many libraries and information organisations staffs are adapting their services to the provision of new media and access to information provision within these organisations. Thus librarians are talking about opportunities, social inclusion to learn, lifelong studying, information society and self-development. Visit:-

There are a myriad of definitions for information literacy is available in journal papers, books and on the web. Some of these definitions centre around the activities that constitute Information literacy i.e. discovering the competencies required for a successful functioning of literate. Others definitions are based on the perspective of an individual who is information literate i.e. trying to outline the idea of information literacy. Deriving therefore a single definition is a complicated process of putting together a collection of thoughts about what might be, should be, or could be considered to be a component of information literacy. For instance, Weber as well as Johnson (2002) defined information literacy as the application of appropriate behavior in information to get, regardless of media or channel, data that is suitable to meet needs in information, as well as critical awareness of the importance of ethical and responsible application of information to society. In 2003, the American Library Association (2003) defined information literacy as the set of skills needed to find and retrieve, analyse, and use information. While CLIP (2004) defines information literacy by understanding what and why one requires information, where to find it and how to assess, use and communicate the information in a professional manner. This definition implies that information literacy is not only knowledge , but also the ability in:

Recognizing the need for information;
* resources available
* Locating information;
* evaluating information;
* Utilizing information
Ethics and accountability of use of information;
* how to communicate or share information;
* how to manage information

Therefore, the range of definitions and implicit explanations of information literacy is a cluster of abilities an individual can use to deal with and make the most of the unprecedented amount of information which surrounds us throughout our lives and work.


The present system of education in Sierra Leone is comprised of six year for formal schooling the three year Junior Secondary School (JSS) and three years of Secondary Secondary School (SSS) and four years of secondary education – 6-3-3-4. (The professor Gbamanja commission’s Report of 2010 recommended an additional year for SSS to become 6-3-4-4). The age of primary school students is between six and eleven years. All pupils at the end of their sixth year are required to sit and pass an exam called the National Primary School Examinations designed by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) to enable them proceed to secondary school, which is divided between junior secondary School(JSS) and Senior Secondary School (SSS). Each section has a final examination: that of the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) for the JSS as well as the West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) for SSS, both conducted by WAEC. Candidates who pass the WASSCE can be admitted into universities according to the number of subjects they have passed (GoSL,1995)

The primary school curriculum stresses communication and the ability to understand and control numbers. At the JSS level the curriculum is general and comprehensive, encompassing all knowledge, attitudes and skills in the cognitive, affective and psychomotor fields. The fundamental subjects of English Math, Science, and Social Studies are obligatory for all students. In the SSS level the curriculum is determined by the nature of the subject (general or specialist), or its particular objectives. Pupils are offered a set of essential (compulsory) subjects along with optional subjects based on their specialization. The curriculum is governed by teaching syllabuses and influenced by the external examinations that pupils are required to take at the 3/ 4-year course. English is the language of education (GoSL,1995).

The two universities of the country along with three polytechnics as well as two teacher training colleges are responsible for training teachers throughout Sierra Leone. In 2004, the Universities Act of 2004 provides for private universities so that these institutions too could help in the training of teachers. They offer programs ranging across the Teacher Certificate offered by the schools for teacher training, and the Masters in Education offered by universities. The pre-service teacher certification program is the job to the National Council for Technical, Vocational and Other Academic Awards (NCTVA). Also, there is an In-Service teacher Training program (Distance Education Program) conducted for teachers with the aim to cut down on the number of teachers who are untrained and not qualified, especially in the rural areas.


For Sierra Leone as it is in most parts of the developing world literacy involves one’s ability to write, read and numeracy. It’s the ability to function effectively in life contexts. Literacy is connected with the ability to use expertise and knowledge, and how these could be utilized in his context. A person who is literate is thought to be capable of applying chemical fertilizers to their crops, fill out an application for loans, calculate the proper dosage of medicine, calculate the cash cropping cost and profits, glean information from newspapers and fill out a bank deposit slip, and be aware of the basic human rights.

Literacy is at the core of the country’s goals for development as well as respect for human rights (World Bank 2007). Literacy activities in all areas are an integral part of international and national strategies for improved education, human development and wellbeing. In the report of 2013 United Nations Human Development Index Sierra Leone has a literacy rate of 34 %.Implicitly Sierra Leone is an oral society. They rely heavily on memory for transmitting their values, laws history, music, and culture whereas the written word provides endless possibilities for communication and thus actively participating in the exchange of information. These possibilities make the purpose of literacy so important to the development of society.