Monthly Archives: August 2020

Best Investment Ideas and Best Safe Investments for 2012

Here we list some of the best investment ideas and tackle the challenge of finding the best safe investments for 2012. What might appear to be one of the best investment ideas to the uninformed could turn out to be one of the worst.

Looking at the big picture for investment ideas in 2012, moderation in asset allocation and a balanced investment portfolio will be the most basic key to success. There are 4 asset classes, and average investors need to spread their money across at least the first three to keep their overall portfolio risk moderate. The 4 categories in asset allocation are: safe investments, bonds, stocks and alternative investments like gold and real estate (optional). Asset allocation can be simplified, because there are mutual funds available to average investors that represent each of the 4 asset classes. Now let’s get more specific about the best investment ideas for 2012 starting with safe investments.

Safe investments earn interest and do not fluctuate in price. You will need to look outside of mutual funds in 2012 to find the best safe investments because record low interest rates have taken yields on money market securities (and hence money market funds) down to just about zero. One of the best investment ideas if you have an account with a discount broker or major mutual fund company is to shop for one-year CDs paying higher rates if you can’t get competitive rates from your local bank. Do not tie your money up for longer periods just to earn a little more interest. One of these days interest rates will go back up and you will be locked in at a lower rate and face penalty charges if you cash in early.

Finding the best safe investments will be truly challenging in 2012, but here are some more investment ideas. If you are in a retirement plan like a 401k that has a fixed or stable account option do not overlook it. You can often get a much higher interest rate there (maybe 4% to 5%) than anywhere else outside of your retirement plan. If you own an older retirement annuity or universal life insurance policy, it might have a fixed account you can add money to that is guaranteed to never pay less than 3% or 4%. Remember, truly safe investments like U.S. Treasury bills and bank money market and savings accounts are paying WAY LESS than 1%!

Over the past 30 years bonds and bond funds have become a favorite with investors because they have been consistent performers and returned on average about 10% per year… basically about equal to what stocks have returned, but with considerably less risk. Many investors have fallen in love with their bonds funds and consider them to be among the world’s best safe investments. Bond funds are NOT safe investments. They have performed well since 1981 (when interest rates and inflation were at record highs) for one primary reason. Both inflation and interest rates have been falling for 30 years, which has sent bond prices higher. Loading up on bond funds now is NOT one of the best investment ideas for 2012. In fact, it is one of the worst investment ideas.

When interest rates and/or inflation turn around and head upward bond funds, especially those that hold long-term bond issues, will be losers. That’s how bonds work. One of the very best investment ideas for 2012 is to sell your long-term bond funds if you own any, and switch to funds holding bonds with average maturities of about five years. These are called intermediate-term bond funds; and average investors should have some money invested here as part of their asset allocation strategy to add balance to their investment portfolio. These are not truly safe investments, but they are much safer than long-term funds.

My best investment ideas in the stock department focus on stock funds. Do not go heavily into the more aggressive funds that invest primarily in growth and/or small company stocks. These pay little if anything in dividend income and tend to be more risky and volatile than the average stock fund. Go with funds that invest in high quality large-company stocks with excellent dividend paying histories. Look for funds that are paying 2% or more in dividends. One of the best investment ideas for 2012 and beyond: invest in no-load funds with low yearly expenses. No-load means no sales charges, and low expenses mean higher net returns to the investor.

Alternative investments include the likes of real estate, gold and other precious metals, natural resources, commodities, foreign investments and so on. One of the best investment ideas for managing a truly balanced investment portfolio is to include this fourth asset class as well. The simplest way for the average investor to add these alternatives to their portfolio is with mutual funds that specialize in these areas or sectors. My best investment ideas here: don’t go heavily into any one area, and don’t chase after a sector (like gold) just because it’s hot. Real estate and natural resources funds would be my picks as two of the best investment ideas in the alternative investments asset class.

Moderation and diversification across the asset classes will be the key to asset allocation in 2012. I have also listed some specific best investment ideas for keeping the average investor in the game and out of serious trouble should the investment scene turn ugly. Above all else memorize this: long-term bond funds are not among the best safe investments for 2012. They are not safe investments, period.

The Top Three Benefits of Changing Transmission Fluid

There has always been some debate on the pros and cons of changing your transmission fluid on a routine basis, per your vehicle owner’s manual recommendation. One of the many rumored suspicions is that doing so will open your car up to having dreaded transmission issues sooner. To debunk those conspiracy theories, let’s get into the meat of the topic and explore, together, why it absolutely makes sense to change it regularly; and how not doing so could actually cause your car to run sluggishly – potentially costing you precious pennies in the long run!

1) Heat is the enemy

The number one reason that manufacturers recommend you change your transmission fluid regularly is because it degrades as it continually heats up during driving. There are exhaustive studies about the precise temperatures in which its effectiveness actually wanes. Suffice it to say that most owner’s manuals duly recommend changing your fluid every 30,000 miles. There is one exception to this rule: newer vehicles using Dexron III ATF fluid can often go up to 100,000 miles before needing to be changed. As you drive, and the transmission heats up, the viscosity of your fluid changes; over time, this heat causes transmissions to burn up and this is the single-most cause of transmission repairs today – burned up transmissions.

2) Gunk and sludge

As your transmission continues to heat up and it continues to break down, your car’s transmission components begin to get bogged down with gunk and sludge. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that gunk and sludge are going to clog up your transmission gears, causing unnatural wear and tear on your vehicle’s transmission. If you want your transmission to continue to operate smoothly, it is vital to keep it clean.

3) Leaky seals and putrid odors

No, I’m not talking about a horror flick here. A well-maintained machine is one whose owner regularly checks the transmission fluid levels – yes, using the dipstick! You should ideally check your transmission fluid level when your engine is warm and idling. Transmission fluid should be bright red and should smell sweet, not putrid or rancid. It shouldn’t be brown or black or even dark red. It should look like the tip of the spindle after Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger. If your transmission fluid level is low, or the color is not right, it’s time to change your transmission fluid and check (or have checked by the mechanic) all of the seals around the transmission for leaks.

If you want your transmission to last throughout the life of the car, it is imperative that you change your transmission fluid regularly, following your owner’s manual guidelines and a few common sense rules. In today’s world of disposable everything – neglecting your transmission can be a rude awakening to your wallet. The potential costs associated with ignoring the routine maintenance guidelines on your transmission could total thousands of dollars that would be better spent on a nice, warm vacation to a sunny spot this summer.

Novel Ideas – Six Unique Ways to Introduce a New Novel to Your Class

There is nothing more exciting than introducing students to a great piece of literature. Conversely, there is nothing more disappointing than students’ lack of enthusiasm about a book you truly love. Unfortunately, your fervor about a novel does not always translate into cheers and applause on the part of your students. Reading a novel requires a lot of investment. Even novels with high-action plots take a while to build momentum. How can you quickly bolster students’ interest at the start of a new book? Below are six sure-fire ways to get your class excited about a new novel.

PLOT PIECES. Divide students into groups. Assign each group one page from a different part of the novel. After they have read the page, ask students to compose a paragraph that outlines the plot of the novel. To do this, students will have to use context clues gleaned from their excerpt. Ask students to elect a representative from each group to present their plot summaries. Compare plot summaries and revisit these summaries at the end of the novel. Asking students to conjecture the plot of the novel will pique their interest in the book and help them extract information from context clues.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS. Ask students to read the first page of text silently. Next, ask for a volunteer to read the first page aloud. Then, ask students to write down as many things as possible that they have learned from the first page. Next, ask students to write down three questions they have based on their reading of the first page. This activity will help students read context clues and it will teach them to site text evidence when making generalizations about a novel.

COVER UP. Read a summary of the novel from the back cover, from the inside flaps, or from an Internet source. If you prefer to leave the novel a mystery, read an excerpt from a select part of the book. You can also print out this summary or excerpt so that students can refer to it. Next, ask students to design a cover based on information gleaned from the summary or excerpt. Allow students to explain their cover design. If you are reading a novel that is divided into parts, have students design a cover at the end of each part of the novel. Revisit cover designs at the completion of the novel and ask students to write a paragraph discussing their various understandings of the novel. This activity will help students chart the ways their understanding developed throughout the reading.

FRONT MATTER. Though students read novels throughout their schooling, very few are taught the importance of the title, copyright, and acknowledgments. The pages that contain this information are called the “front matter.” In small groups, ask students to explore the front matter of the novel. Instruct students to list 10 things they learned from these pages. In a more open-ended version of this activity, you can ask students to answer the following questions: What does the front matter tell you about what will and what will not be in this novel? What does the front matter tell you about the novel’s plot and themes? A good explanation of front matter can be found at Vox Clarus Press’ website. Just search “Vox Clarus Front Matter.”

LAST LINES. Instruct students to read the last sentence or the last paragraph of the novel silently. Next, ask someone to read these last lines aloud. From these last lines, ask students to draw a comic strip that shows the plot of the novel. Each frame of the comic strip should contain narrative and dialogue. The last frame of the comic strip should be based on information gleaned from the novel’s last lines. Thinking about the ending of the novel will whet students’ appetite for the actual plot.

BEGINNING AND ENDING. Ask students to read both the first sentence and the last sentence of the novel. Next, ask the students to construct a poem, paragraph, or short story using the first and last sentences of the novel as the first and last sentences for their writing. Your students’ writing should summarize what they think will be the plot of the novel. Revisit these summaries at the middle and at the end of the reading. In a reflective paragraph, ask students to compare their initial impressions to the novel’s actual plot and themes.

When beginning a new novel, consider using one of the above activities in your classroom. These activities provide a new lens through which to view your new novel. Starting the study of your novel in a unique and unpredictable way will bolster your students’ interest and engagement.

About Purchasing Wipes for Your Gym

Your gym is a resource for people who want to stay in shape or improve their body and health. It can be a haven for people who love to work out and come to exercise classes, and a place for people to meet, socialize and learn about health and nutrition. Your gym, in other words, is more than just a business- it can provide a lifestyle for your clients. In order to manage your gym efficiently and to help ensure that customers like coming there, it is important to maintain your gym and keep it clean at all times. It is also important to offer conveniences to your customers that they will appreciate. One way to both offer a benefit to customers and to help keep your gym clean is to purchase wipes for your gym.

Wipes for Your Gym

When you purchase wipes for your gym, there are a few different kinds of wipes that you should consider. Perhaps the most obvious type of wipes to buy are gym wipes. Gym wipes are designed for cleaning gym equipment between users. Your customers can grab a gym wipe from a convenient dispenser and wipe down the equipment so that it is clean and dry for the next person who wants to make use of the machine.

Gym wipes serve many important purposes in the gym environment. They allow for the machines to stay clean and safe to use, and they help customers to feel more comfortable making use of the equipment. No one wants to grab sweaty equipment that someone else has just been using without wiping it down first, and gym equipments make this easy. Equipment that is slick with sweat can also be dangerous, so gym wipes help to make your gym a safer place. Finally, because the equipment is cleaned more frequently with gym wipes, it will always appear clean to perspective members visiting the gym and to members who want a pleasant environment at the gym. Cleaning at the end of the day will be easier as well, since the machine is already clean from being wiped down with gym wipes.

In addition to gym wipes, you may also wish to purchase antibacterial wipes or hand wipes to keep around your gym. Like gym wipes, these have many purposes and many benefits to customers. For one thing, they can help to stop the transmission of germs. When people use gym equipment and sweat on that equipment, they leave behind more than just their perspiration- they also leave behind any bacteria, viruses or other organisms that were on their hands or body. This can cause other patrons at the gym to be exposed to these disease-causing organisms. Recent outbreaks of swine flu and other contagious diseases have underscored the importance of always making sure that you are protected from germs.

Customers will also appreciate the opportunity to use an antibacterial wipe to wipe their hands rather than having to go to the bathroom to wash them. This makes for good customer service and can help to improve the gym experience.

Yeast Infection Information

What is the yeast infection?

A yeast infection is caused by an overgrowth of naturally occurring yeast organisms in the genital area. Women usually get yeast infections in the vaginal area. Men can get a yeast infection on the penis.

What is of causes of yeast infection?

Yeast infections are not usually sexually transmitted. Although many women get a yeast infection without any noticeable cause, it can be triggered by anything that changes the natural balance of micro-organisms in the vagina, such as taking antibiotic medication.

People with certain diseases, including diabetes and HIV infection, are especially vulnerable to yeast infections.

Symptoms of a yeast infection?

Symptoms may include itching, soreness, or a burning sensation in the vagina, and a thick, cottage-cheese-like discharge. In men, itching and rash at the head of the penis is the most common symptom.

Symptoms of yeast infection in women?

For women, your doctor or other health-care provider will collect a sample of fluid with a small swab from the vagina and have it tested at a laboratory. For men, a yeast infection can usually be diagnosed by a simple visual exam.

Treatment of yeast infection

Medicated creams, vaginal suppositories, or pills taken by mouth can be used to cure a yeast infection. Many of these treatments are available without a prescription at drugstores. You should see a doctor if your yeast infection won’t go away after you’ve taken a full course of medication, or if it keeps returning, as there may be other causes of your symptoms as colloidal silver.

What happens if a yeast infection is left untreated?

Discomfort and inconvenience are the worst problems associated with a yeast infection.

Do sex partners have to be treated?

In general, sex partners do not need to be treated unless they have symptoms.

By the way, women can also get yeast infections from men. So it’s important to treat both partners if a yeast infection is suspected. To minimize the risk of passing the infection to a partner, it is generally recommended that you abstain from sexual activity until all of your symptoms are gone

What if I’m pregnant?

We don’t know of any serious effects – on the mother or the baby – of a yeast infection

During pregnancy, but you should tell your doctor that you’re pregnant when you seek

Treatment for a yeast infection as colloidal silver.

A yeast infection is not usually sexually transmitted. However, all pregnant women should be tested for diseases that ARE sexually transmitted (STDs), including HIV, as early as possible in pregnancy. You should be tested again during your pregnancy if you or your partner engages in activities that increase your risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). For example, you are at higher risk for STDs if you have a new sex partner during pregnancy, or if you have more than one partner. If left untreated, STDs can be devastating for your baby. To protect yourself and your baby against HIV and other STDs, use a latex condom whenever you have sex.

How can I avoid a yeast infection?

Avoiding unnecessary antibiotic medication may help reduce the risk of a yeast infection.

A yeast infection is generally not sexually transmitted. You can reduce your risk of getting most other infections that ARE sexually transmitted, including HIV, by having sex only in mutually monogamous relationship with a partner you are sure is not infected. If you are having sex outside of such a relationship, you can reduce your risk of STDs by:

1) Always using a latex condom (or other type of latex barrier) whenever you have sex vaginal, anal, or oral. Condoms made of “natural” materials, such as lambskin, protect against pregnancy, but not against STDs. If you are allergic to latex, you can use condoms made of polyurethane or other synthetic materials.

2) Limiting the number of people you have sex with. The more partners you have, the higher your risk.

3) Avoiding alcohol and drugs when you have sex. Drinking or getting high makes it much harder to remember to use condoms to protect yourself and other.

Easy Songs To Play On Guitar With 4 Simple Open Chords

Learning Chords

For most beginners at guitar playing, the first goal is to learn some easy songs to play on the guitar. And one of the main challenges here is learning all the guitar chords needed in order to be able to play those songs.

And that’s not always an easy thing to accomplish. Many songs uses chords that seem to have been invented for no other reason than to make it impossible to play. No wonder you give up on those songs. They have to wait until you get better at guitar playing.

G-Em-C-D

The Chord progression G-Em-C-D is a common (big understatement!) sequence all over the world, in all sorts of music styles. You can of course transpose to other chords, like C-Am-F-G or D-Bm-G-A and so on. Another way to “transpose” a song that not fits your voice is to use a capo at any fret you like.

I have compiled a little list of songs that I found that uses these chords. Many of them uses the progression all the way through the entire song, others are played with variations. And a few of them uses other chords as well.

The List

So here it is, my small gift to those of you who can’t find easy songs to play on guitar.

Here are the chords again, with two additional variations.

(C-Am-F-G), (G-Em-C-D), (D-Bm-G-A)

Stand by Me – Ben E. King

Heart and Soul – Hoagy Carmichael

The Thin Ice – Pink Floyd

Earth Angel – The Penguins (in family guy, back to the future etc.)

Donna – Ritchie Valens

Duke of Earl – Gene Chandler

Every Breath You Take – The Police

The Living Daylights – a-Ha

Last Kiss

Those Magic Changes and Beauty School Dropout – from Grease

Leader of the Pack

You Send Me

Blue Moon – Chris Isaak

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do – The Carpenters

Bubble Goose – Wyclef Jean

Teenager in Love – Dion & The Belmonts(?)

Fly On The Wings Of Love – The Olsen Brothers

Bus Station – Tom Russell

Heart Of Gold – Neil young

Stand By Me – Ben E King

Beautiful Girls – Sean Kingston

I’ve just seen a face – The Beatles

Last Kiss – Pearl Jam

Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis (I think?)

Single Ladies – Beyonce

Baby – Justin Bieber

Mary’s Song- Taylor Swift

Jump then Fall- Taylor Swift

Wrapped in your Arms- Fireflight

This magic moment

Up on the roof- The Drifters

Wonderful world – Herman Hermits

Lovers moon – Glenn Frye – My new favorite.

She will be loved – Maroon 5

His Latest Flame – Elvis.

I Only Want To Be With You – Dusty Springfield.

End Of The Line – Traveling Wilburys.

Puff The Magic Dragon – Peter, Paul and Mary

Kumbayah

Where Have All The Flowers Gone? – Pete Seeger

Look at the first song in this list. In all its simplicity “Stand By Me” is a fantastic song, and it has travelled with me through all these years. And it’s a very easy song to play on guitar.

If you like that song I’ll show you a very special version of it, at my website.

Top 10 Motorcycles Songs

1. Meatloaf – Bat out of Hell

Released in 1979, and again in 1993 it was written by Jim Steinman with lead vocals from Meatloaf. Steinman was insistent that the song should contain the sound of a motorbike engine being revved, and complained to producer Todd Rundgren in the final recording session when it was not added. Rather than use a recording of a real motorcycle, Rundgren himself played the section on guitar, leading straight into the solo without a break.

2. The Doors – Riders on the storm

Taken from their 1971 album, LA woman this song reached number 22 spot on the UK singles chart. The song was inspired by Ghost Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend.”

3. The Eagles – Life in the Fast Lane

This is the third single from the Album Hotel California which was written by Joe Walsh, Glenn Frey and Don Henley and reached number 11 in the Billboard Hot 100

4. Steppenwolf – Born to Be Wild

Born to be wild was Initially released in 1968 and was used on the soundtrack for the famous motorcycle movie Easy rider, staring Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda riding Harley Davidson Hydraglide bikes from 1949, 1950 and 1952

5. Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run

Written in Long Branch, New Jersey in 1974 the song is a love letter to a girl called Wendy. Springsteen himself is a celebrated bike fan. He recently auctioned off his Harley Davidson at the NY Comedy Festival Event ‘Stand Up for Heroes: A Benefit for the Bob Woodruff Family Fund‘ for US$ 85,000.

6. Rush – Ghost Rider

This song is based on the motorcycle story Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road. by Rush’s drummer and lyricist Neil Peart. Peart embarked on a 14 month 55,000 mile motorcycle journey across America after losing two of his family members.

7. Manic Street Preachers – Motorcycle Emptiness

This single by Welsh Rock band Manic Street preachers was inspired by a book by SE Hilton called Rumble Fish and is about biker gang culture. The lyrics have been interpreted by some as an attach consumer/capitalist lifestyle and how young people are expected to conform.

8. Shangri-Las – Leader of the Pack

This song became number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in November 1964 and is about a girl called Betty who is seeking her parent’s disapproval by dating Jimmy, the leader of a motorcycle gang. Her parents claim he is from the “the wrong side of town” and will be a bad influence on her.

9. Bob Seger – Roll Me Away

Roll Me Away was written in 1982 by Bob Seger on the album The Distance by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. Tit reached number 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 char

10. Prince- Purple Rain

The song Purple Rain, taken from the album of the same name reached number 2 in the America charts. The album was thought by many as among the best rock albums ever it was ranked by Rolling Stone Magazine as the second best album of the 1980s.

Promoting Literacy in School Libraries in Sierra Leone

INTRODUCTION

The heart of information literacy is contained within definitions used to describe it. Traditionally librarians have given ‘library induction’ or ‘library skills training’ in a limited role. Library users need to know where the catalogue is, what the services are, and most importantly where the enquiry desk is. This is not to reduce the value of traditional library induction, but libraries and information are also changing. The provision of information through a library in a traditional form has gone through radical alterations. Already in most library and information organisations staffs are adjusting their services with the provision of new media and access to information provision within these organisations. Thus librarians are talking about social inclusion, opportunity, life-long learning, information society and self development.

A plethora of definitions for information literacy abound in books, journal papers and the web. Some of these definitions centre on the activities of information literacy i.e. identifying the skills needed for successful literate functioning. Other definitions are based on the perspective of an information literate person i.e. trying to outline the concept of information literacy. Deriving therefore a single definition is a complex process of collecting together a set of ideas as to what might be, should be, or may be considered a part of information literacy. For example Weber and Johnson (2002) defined information literacy as the adoption of appropriate information behaviour to obtain, through whatever channel or medium, information well fitted to information needs, together with critical awareness of the importance of wise and ethical use of information in society. The American Library Association (2003) defined information literacy as a set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information. While CLIP (2004) defined information literacy as knowing when and why one needs information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner. Succinctly these definitions imply that information literacy requires not only knowledge but also skills in:

• recognising when information is needed;

• resources available

• locating information;

• evaluating information;

• using information;

• ethics and responsibility of use of information;

• how to communicate or share information;

• how to manage information

Given therefore the variety of definitions and implied explanation information literacy is a cluster of abilities that an individual can employ to cope with, and to take advantage of the unprecedented amount of information which surrounds us in our daily life and work.

STRUCTURE OF THE EDUCATION SYSTEM

Sierra Leone’s current educational system is composed of six years of formal primary education, three years of Junior Secondary School (JSS), three years Senior Secondary School (SSS) and four years of tertiary 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 official age for primary school pupils is between six and eleven years. All pupils at the end of class six are required to take and pass the National Primary School Examinations designed by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) to enable them proceed to the secondary school divided into Junior Secondary School(JSS) and Senior Secondary School (SSS). Each part has a final examination: the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) for the JSS, and the West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) for SSS, both conducted by WAEC. Successful candidates of WASSCE are admitted to tertiary institutions based on a number of subjects passed (GoSL,1995)

The curriculum of primary schools emphasizes communication competence and the ability to understand and manipulate numbers. At the JSS level, the curriculum is general and comprehensive, encompassing the whole range of knowledge, attitudes and skills in cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains. The core subjects of English, Mathematics, Science and Social studies are compulsory for all pupils. At the SSS level, the curriculum is determined by its nature (general or specialist), or its particular objectives. Pupils are offered a set of core (compulsory) subjects with optional subjects based on their specialization. Teaching is guided by the 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 instruction (GoSL,1995).

The countries two universities, three polytechnics, and two teacher training colleges are responsible for the training of teachers in Sierra Leone. The Universities Act of 2004 provides for private universities so that these institutions too could help in the training of teachers. Programs range from the Teacher Certificate offered by the teacher training colleges to the Masters in Education offered by universities. Pre-service certification of teachers is the responsibility of the National Council for Technical, Vocational and Other Academic Awards (NCTVA). There is also an In-service Teacher Training program (Distance Education Program) conducted for teachers in part to reduce the number of untrained and unqualified teachers especially in the rural areas.

LITERACY IN SIERRA LEONE

In Sierra Leone as it is in most parts of the developing world literacy involves one’s ability to read, write and numeracy. It is the ability to function effectively in life contexts. A literate person is associated with the possession of skills and knowledge and how these could be applied within his local environment. For instance a literate person is believed to be able to apply chemical fertilizer to his crops, fill in a loans form, determine proper dosage of medicine, calculate cash cropping cost and profits, glean information from a newspaper, make out a bank deposit slip and understanding instructions and basic human rights.

Literacy is at the heart of the country’s development goals and human rights (World Bank, 2007). Wherever practised literacy activities are part of national and international strategies for improved education, human development and well-being. According to the 2013 United Nations Human Development Index Sierra Leone has a literacy rate of 34 %.Implicitly Sierra Leone is an oral society. And oral societies rely heavily on memory to transmit their values, laws, history, music, and culture whereas the written word allows infinite possibilities for transmission and therefore of active participation in communication. These possibilities are what make the goal of literacy crucial in society.

In academic parlance literacy hinges on the printed word. Most pupils are formally introduced to print when they encounter schoolbook. School teachers in Sierra Leone continue to use textbooks in their teaching activities to convey content area information to pupils. It is no gainsaying that pupils neither maximise their learning potential nor read at levels necessary for understanding the type of materials teachers would like them to use. Thus the performance of pupils at internal and public examinations is disappointing. Further pupils’ continued queries in the library demonstrate that they do not only lack basic awareness of resources available in their different school libraries but also do not understand basic rudiments of how to source information and materials from these institutions. What is more worrisome is that pupils do not use appropriate reading skills and study strategies in learning. There is a dearth of reading culture in schools and this situation cuts across the fabric of society. In view of the current support the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) to establish literacy standards in school this situation has proved frustrating as teachers do not know how to better help pupils to achieve this goal. Thus they look up to the school librarians to play a more proactive role.

LITERACY DEMANDS ON SECONDARY SCHOOL PUPILS

In everyday situations school pupils are expected to be able to identify and seek information they need. Providing a variety of reading and writing experiences using varied materials in the school library can help develop pupils’ literacy ability (Roe, Stoodt-Hill and Burns, 2004). The mode of assessment in schools in Sierra Leone includes class exercises, tests, written and practical assignments, as well as written examinations to see pupils through to their next levels. These pupils, for example, need to read content books and supplementary materials in school for homework. Pupils have even more literacy needs in their activities outside school. They need to read signs found in their communities, job applications, road maps and signs, labels on food and medicine, newspapers, public notices, bank statements, bills and many other functional materials. Failure to read and understand these materials can result in their committing traffic violations, having unpleasant reactions to food or medicine, becoming lost, losing employment opportunities and missing desirable programs. Equally so pupils need to write to their relatives and loved ones, instructions to people who are doing things for them, notes to themselves about tasks to be completed, phone messages for colleagues and many other items. Mistakes in these activities can have negative effects on them. Good literacy skills are especially important to pupils who plan to pursue higher education studies. The job market in the country calls for pupils to be literate. For instance most jobs advertised these days require people who have completed their JSS. The fact is that workers need to be able to understand graphic aids, categorized information and skim and scan to locate information. Also the nature of reading in the workplace generally involves locating information for immediate use and inferring information for problem solving. The reading and writing of a variety of documents like memos, manuals, letters, reports and instructions are necessary literacy skills in the workplace.

SCHOOL LIBRARIES IN SIERRA LEONE

School libraries in Sierra Leone are perceived as integral aspect of the county’s educational system. These institutions bring together four major components of the school community: the materials, pupils, teacher and library staff. The main purpose for the establishment of these institutions in schools is to complement the teaching/learning process, if not to support the curriculum. This purpose is achieved in two ways: by providing pupils with the means of finding whatever information they need; and by developing in pupils the habit of using books both for information and for pleasure. Pupils need information to help them with the subjects they learn in school. The textbooks they use and the notes they take in class can be an excellent foundation. They may also be sufficient for revision purposes. But these could not be enough to enable pupils to write good essays of their own or to carry out group projects. School libraries then are expected to complement this effort and therefore are perceived as learning centres.

Pupils need information on subjects not taught in school. School libraries are looked upon as places pupils find information to help them in their school studies and personal development. Through these institutions pupils’ habit of using libraries for life-long education is not only developed but also school libraries could be used to improve pupils’ reading skills. In the school community both pupils and teachers use school libraries for leisure and recreational purpose and for career advancement. The culture of society is also transmitted through use of school libraries. Because of the important role school libraries play in the country’s educational system they are organised in such way that pupils as well as teachers can rely upon them for support in the teaching/learning process. Most of these institutions are managed by either a full-time staff often supervised by a senior teacher. Staffs use varied methods to promote their use including user education.

JUSTIFYING THE LIBRARIAN’S INVOLVEMENT IN PROMOTING LITERACY IN SCHOOL

A pre-requisite for the development of autonomous pupils through flexible resource-based learning approaches is that pupils master a set of skills which gradually enable them to take control of their own learning. Current emphasis in teaching in schools in Sierra Leone has shifted from “teacher-centred” to “pupil-centred” approach thereby making pupils to “learn how to learn” for themselves so that the integration of process skills into the design of the school curriculum becomes crucial (GoSL,1995). It is in this area of “learning” or “information literacy” skills that one can most clearly see the inter-relationship between the school curriculum and the school library. For pupils to become independent users of information and for this to occur it is vital that they are given the skills to learn how to find information, how to select what is relevant, and how to use it in the best way possible for their own particular needs and take responsibility for their own learning. As information literate, pupils will be able to manage information skilfully and efficiently in a variety of contexts. They will be capable of weighing information carefully and wisely to determine its quality (Marcum2002). Pupils do recognise that having good information is central to meeting the opportunity and challenges of day-to-day living. They are also aware of the importance of how researching across a variety of sources and formats to locate the best information to meet particular needs.

Literacy activities in schools in Sierra Leone are the responsibility of content area teachers, reading consultants and school librarians. Of these the role of the school librarian is paramount. As specialist the school librarian is expected to provide assistance to pupils and teachers alike by locating materials in different subjects, and at different reading levels by making available materials that can be used for motivation and background reading. The school librarian is also expected to provide pupils with instructions in locating strategies related to the library such as doing online searches and skimming through printed reference materials. The librarian is expected to display printed materials within his purview, write specialised bibliographies and lists of addresses on specific subjects at the request of teachers. He should be able to provide pupils with direct assistance in finding and using appropriate materials; recreational reading can be fostered by the librarian’s book talks or attractive book displays on high-interest topics like HIV/AIDS, child abuse, child rights, human rights and poverty alleviation. In view of this the fundamental qualities expected of the good school librarian include knowledge of his collection and how to access it; ability to understand the needs of his users more so those of pupils; ability to communicate with pupils and adult users; and knowledge of information skills and how to use information.

ROLE OF THE SCHOOL LIBRARIAN

Pupils’ success in school depends to a large extent upon their ability to access, evaluate and use information. Providing access to information and resources is a long-standing responsibility of the school librarian. The school librarian should provide the leadership and expertise necessary to ensure that the library becomes integral in the instructional program of the school. In school the librarian is the information specialist, teacher and instructional consultant. He is the interface responsible for guiding pupils and teachers through the complex information resources housed in his library (Lenox and Walker, 1993). He is looked up to assist and guide numerous users in seeking to use and understand the resources and services of the library. In this respect the school librarian should inculcate in these users such skills as manual and online searching of information; use of equipment; developing critical skills for the organization, evaluation and use of information and ideas as integral part of the curriculum (Lonsdale, 2003). The school librarian should be aware of the range of available information retrieval systems, identify that most suitable to the needs of pupils and provide expertise in helping them become knowledgeable, if not comfortable, in their use. Since no library is self-sufficient the school librarian can network with information agencies, lending/renting materials and/or using electronic devises to transmit information (Tilke, 1998; 2002).

As information specialist the school librarian should be able to share his expertise with those who may wish to know what information sources and/or learning materials are available to support a program of work. Such consultation should be offered to the whole school through the curriculum development committee or to individual subject teachers. The school librarian should take the lead in developing pupils’ information literacy skills by being involved with the school curriculum planning and providing a base of resources to meet its needs. He should be aware of key educational initiatives and their impact in teaching and learning; he should be familiar with teaching methods and learning styles in school; over all he should maintain an overview of information literacy programmes within the school (Herring, 1996; Kuhlthau, 2004).

Kuhlthau (2004) opined that information seeking is a primary activity of life and that pupils seek information to deepen and broaden their understanding of the world around them. When therefore, information in school libraries is placed in a larger context of learning, pupils’ perspective becomes an essential component in information provision. The school librarian should ensure that skills, knowledge and attitude concerning information access, use and communication, are integral part of the school curriculum. Information skills are crucial in the life-long learning process of pupils. As short term objective the school librarian should provide a means of achieving learning objectives within the curriculum; as long term information skills have a direct impact on individual pupils’ ability to deal effectively with a changing environment. Therefore the school librarian should work in concert with teachers and administrators to define the scope and sequence of the information relevant to the school curriculum and ensure its integration throughout the instructional programs (Tilke, 2002; Birks and Hunt, 2003). Pupils should be encouraged to realise their potential as informed citizens who critically think and solve problems. In view of the relationship between the curriculum and school library, the librarian should serve on the curriculum committee ensuring that information access skills are incorporated into subject areas. The school librarian’s involvement in the curriculum development will permit him to provide advice on the use of a variety of instructional strategies such as learning centres and problem-solving software, effective in communicating content to pupils (Herring, 1996; Birks and Hunt, 2003).

Literacy could be actively developed as pupils need access to specific resources, demonstrate understanding of their functionality and effective searching skills. In this regard pupils should be given basic instruction to the library, its facilities and services and subsequent use. Interactive teaching methods aimed at information literacy education should be conducted for the benefit of pupils. Teaching methods could include an outline of a variety of aides like quizzes and worksheets of differing complexity level to actively engage pupils in learning library skills and improving their information literacy. Classes should be divided into small groups so that pupils could have hands-on-experience using library resources. Where Internet services are available in the library online tutorials should be provided. Post session follow-up action will ensure that pupils receive hands-on-experience using library resources. Teaching methods should be constantly evaluated to identify flaws and improve on them.

Further the school librarian should demonstrate willingness to support and value pupils in their use of the library through: provision of readers’ guides; brochures; book marks; library handbooks/guides; computerization of collection; helpful guiding throughout the library; and regular holding of book exhibitions and book fairs. Since there are community radio stations in the country the school librarian could buy air time to report library activities, resources and services. He can also communicate to pupils through update newspapers. Pupils could be encouraged to contribute articles on library development, book reviews and information about opening times and services. The school librarian could help pupils to form book and reading clubs, organize book weeks and book talks using visiting speakers and renowned writers to address pupils. Classes could also be allowed to visit the library to facilitate use. More importantly the school librarian should provide assistance to pupils in the use of technology to access information outside the library. He should offer pupils opportunities related to new technology, use and production of varied media formats, and laws and polices regarding information. In order to build a relevant resource base for the school community the librarian should constantly carry out needs assessment, comparing changing demands to available resources.

The Internet is a vital source for promoting literacy in the school library. The school librarian should ensure that the library has a website that will serve as guide to relevant and authoritative sources and as a tool for learning whereby pupils and teachers are given opportunity to share ideas and solutions (Herring, 2003). Through the Internet pupils can browse the library website to learn how to search and develop information literacy skills. In order for pupils to tap up-to-date sources from the Net the school librarian should constantly update the home page, say on a daily basis, if necessary. Simultaneously the school librarian should avail to pupils and teachers sheets/guides to assist them in carrying out their own independent researches. He should give hands-on-experience training to users to share ideas with others through the formation of “lunch time” or “after school support groups”. Such activities could help pupils to develop ideas and searching information for a class topic and assignment.

Even the location of the library has an impact in promoting literacy in school. The library should be centrally located, close to the maximum number of teaching areas. It should be able to seat at least ten per cent of school pupils at any given time, having a wide range of resources vital for teaching and learning programs offered in school. The library should be characterised by good signage for the benefit of pupil and teacher users with up-to-date displays to enhance the literacy skills of pupils and stimulating their intellectual curiosity.

CONCLUSION

Indeed the promotion of literacy should be integral in the school curriculum and that the librarian should be able to play a leading role to ensure that the skills, knowledge and attitudes related to information access are inculcated in pupils and teachers alike as paramount users of the school library. But the attainment of this goal is dependent on a supportive school administration, always willing and ready to assist the library and its programs financially. To make the librarian more effective he should be given capacity building to meeting the challenges of changing times.

REFERENCES

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Herring, James E. (1996). Teaching information skills in schools. London: Library Association Publishing.

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Lenox, M. F. & Walker, M. L.(1993). ‘Information Literacy in the education process.’ The Educational Forum, 52 (2): 312-324.

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World Bank (2007). Education in Sierra Leone; present challenges, future opportunities. Washington,DC: World Bank.