One of the fundamental requirements of all educational systems is the adequate provision of relevant and appropriate reading and other instructional and learning materials for use by teachers and their pupils. Such provision entails the authorship and publication of the materials. But also essential to the process is their distribution into the hands of the users, either directly or indirectly, via storage, organization, control and dissemination by an information centre. Whereas course textbooks can be distributed through retail outlets and individual purchase, reference and general reading materials require some form of organization for shared use. Books are too expensive for any but those which are compulsory reading to be purchased. It is not feasible to expect an individual to buy a book for reference or for once-only reading.
It is the aim of this study to examine some of the modalities through which the school population in Africa gain access to supplementary reading materials and to reach some conclusions on which are the most effective.
After an initial planning workshop held in London in September 1997, local researchers returned to Africa to undertake case studies of different access modalities. An additional case study was undertaken in UK from the published literature. The completed case studies have been edited and are contained in this report, together with an introduction and some conclusions. One case study, that of community resource centres (village reading rooms in Botswana) has not been submitted. The case studies from Mali and Mozambique have been translated into English.
Educational Paper No. 26, DFID, London, UK, ISBN 1 86192 051 2, 134 pp.