by Ndalimpinga Iita
WINDHOEK, April 23 (Xinhua) -- Greenwell Matongo, located in the suburbs of Namibia's capital city Windhoek, is known for its many pubs and bars teeming with tourists.
However, on the bustling main Eveline Street hides a totally different spot -- the Greenwell Matongo Community Library.
Reading at the library has kept Ndapanda Ndahalele, a 23-year-old girl, away from alcohol abuse.
"I am trying to improve my matric grades. Moreover, reading books on subject courses helps me focus, gain knowledge and resist worldly temptations," Ndahalele said Tuesday.
This is in contrast with her earlier formative years.
"Back then I partied in Eveline Street till the break of dawn. However, last year I got a reality check and decided to commit to my school work. I discovered the library and turned to books," she said.
Ndahalele has been struggling to improve her grades after failing matric three years ago.
In the library, she was able to access books of diverse content. "I read more, know more, and perform better," she said.
Ndahalele is one of hundreds of thousands of public members acquiring community library services in the country. Statistics from the Namibian Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture show that a total of 762,446 persons nationwide were engaged in library services in 2018.
Absalom Absalom, public relations officer of the ministry, said the government decided to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education to promote lifelong learning and increase self-development chances for citizens "by creating and maintaining professional expertise and a nationwide network of libraries as well as information centers."
Nationwide, there are more than 80 libraries, including community libraries, registered with the ministry, he added.
Ndahalele is also savvy in information communication technology (ICT) following frequent visits to the library.
About 270,900 community members and learners have accessed ICT services and an average of 15,180 library users accessed electronic resources thanks to the provision of ICT.
The aim is to help citizens nurture a reading hobby and gain digital content, said Absalom.
Hellen Spargo, a volunteer at Read Namibia initiative which promotes reading at schools in Windhoek, said that books are critical to stimulating the cognitive ability of young people and broadening their perspectives.
"Exposed to a diverse world, I believe in myself and I know I have other alternatives than to live my previous careless life. I am not looking back," said Ndahalele.
The 24th World Book and Copyright Day falls on Tuesday, an annual event organized by the United Unions Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to promote reading, publishing and copyright.