LIBRARIES AND SOCIAL INCLUSION

Ngozi Aghadinuno Osuchukwu

Ngozi Aghadinuno Osuchukwu

Everyone deserves information to exist functionally and attain the desired objectives. When one knows what goes on around him, there will be no apathy because it is the lack of information that makes one feel dejected, disadvantaged, unaccepted and unacknowledged. Information engagement processes that give everyone the opportunity to improve, restore human dignity and take part in community’s activities are what make social inclusion worthwhile. This is what libraries do, making all groups of people within a society feel valued and important with impacts of sustainable development. Indeed the libraries fulfill the global outcry of leaving no one behind in driving social inclusion.

Unfortunately, the population is besieged by unfair world, where some people have it all even in information service deliveries while some are abysmally forgotten and under served. Now, one may wonder:

What could be responsible for the information divide between those with information and others bereft of it?

The answer is simple – sheer exclusion!

Engagement and outreaches in the communities have shown that many communities do not have libraries nor information centers. Yet there are community Diaspora members, philanthropists, representatives in different levels of government who should establish and support these platforms. These dwellers are kept in the dark which is the reason information on health, education, agriculture, water and sanitation, civic responsibilities arrive late. Painfully, women still die giving birth, polio still affect children with lots of other health and social hazards. What do the politicians do with the constituency project funds allotted to them? Can’t that provide simple information centers for under served community dwellers?

Painfully, the social excluded groups are sometimes barred from a number of practices ranging from stereotypes, stigmas, superstitions based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and disability status (World Bank Group, 2017). These practices touch the very core of human dignity, exposing them to danger of ignorance as well as rob them of relevant opportunities for a better life.

Let us look at some of the socially excluded groups:

  1. Women: History and traditions have recorded scenarios of abject exclusion of this genre in almost every quarter. In the rural sector, many women are at the background without knowledge of any development process. Yet decisions are taken on their behalf without their opinions. Some are abused and dehumanized without the knowledge that they can seek for redress and empowerment to improve their lives.
  2. Girls: they will grow up to be women tomorrow but what type of women will they be if they are trodden on and told times without number that a woman has no place in the society but at the caprices of her man. In this era, some girls are still married off before age 18 because of poverty and cultural nuances.
  3. Children: children are heaven’s smile on earth but these bundles of joy sometimes lack direction on charting good ways for good living. Many children are homeless, roaming the streets, eating from the garbage, and being enlisted as children soldiers in war ravaged zones. Many children are marginalized without basic education and guidance for good living as bona fide citizens.
  4. Rural dwellers: They want to exist functionally and enjoy all the benefits accrued in the city like the urban population but challenges of non-service deliveries, lack of basic amenities, neglect and social exclusion push them into apathy. They resign their fate and distrust government functionaries which sometimes rub off on service providers. Their long absence of mainstreaming jeopardizes their lack of information which is translated to their children.
  5. People with disabilities (PWDs): Birth defects, sickness and accident have placed this group in uncomfortable positions. But they are still humans through and through. They need inclusive participation just like everyone else. Their dignity is still intact.
  6. Migrants: So what if they left their communities to seek solace and better life in another environment? Should they not be included to feel valued and acknowledged? They must be integrated in the whole for maximum benefits of inclusive participation and contribution.

Let us not forget the moral implications of social exclusion. It can cause depression, leading to psychological and sociological traumas. Excluded group may turn against the society, becoming outlaw and counteracting the development of the community. Social exclusion can be so costly if left unaddressed. Library has a core value of inclusiveness where no one is rejected nor refused to be served. Library does not have a language of exclusion. Thus, corporate organizations should wake up to social corporate responsibility in the communities that host them and establish libraries for the community members. Agencies, stakeholders, duty bearers, politicians and groups should support social inclusion by supporting libraries for all inclusive information dissemination. We owe humanity the social services of carrying everyone along irrespective of class, status, gender and nationality. With inclusion, sustainable development becomes achievable. Information and inclusion drive development.

References

World Bank Group (2017). Social inclusion. Assessed on 13th September, 2017 from http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/socialdevelopment/brief/social-inclusion

 

Author: Ngozi Aghadinuno Osuchukwu

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