With talking to the teachers at St. Patricks and Precious Blood over the past few days, one of the realities I have come to understand is that the reason the performance of certain subjects is weaker than others is because of funding, not lack of interest. When I asked specifically what subjects suffer the most because of funding, as opposed to the skills of the students, the answer was unequivocally English and the Humanities. The examples were numerous. Philosophy isn’t offered. History is an elective, thereby automatically reducing enrolment by at least half. In fact, at St. Patricks I was told the only compulsory humanities subject is theory (theology).
Walking me through their budgetary constraints and how that reflects on any possible allocation towards the library, the Principal of St. Patricks presented some sobering facts. Government funding allots roughly 300 KSH per student in secondary schools. 10 percent of that budget is allocated to library and textbook funding. The math is simple enough. The school receives 30 KSH (roughly 0.33 USD) per student to meet all the textbook costs, let alone library replenishment. When I asked what the minimum required would be to meet even basic textbook needs, it was estimated at 2,500 KSH (this only enough to acquire 5 textbooks per student).
Thus, any budgetary allowances will focus purely on curriculum textbooks not because other books were deemed irrelevant, but because even the most basic resource needs to satisfy the core curriculum requirements cannot be met. In light of this, it is no surprise that libraries are understocked. It is no surprise that they are rundown. In many cases, it is no surprise that they are nonexistent. Our goal is to meet this need, to help expose the students to as many books as possible by supplying them directly to the library. This is the first step in promoting and enhancing literacy fluency, a fundamental requirement in the excellence of the humanities subjects.