What a person likes shows forth more in their actions than what they say.
In like manner, what a society claims to value and what it allows (to take place), its choices, deliberate and non-deliberate decisions reveal what they actually mean.
In my quiet moments, I ask myself: as a country, what do we like? Who are we, and what do we stand for? What do we cherish?
My self-questioning stems from what our society is now characterised by.
If one decides to stay away from their smartphone or television, the option of retreating to a library may not be available.
Community or public libraries are rare now. Checks indicate that Ghana has less than a hundred public libraries serving it’s more than 30 million citizens.
Ghana, per the 2021 Population and Housing Census (PHC) has 30.8 million people, showing an increase by 6.1 million from the 24.7 million recorded in 2010, constituting an annual intercensal growth rate of 2.1 per cent.
It is evident that Ghana has a young population. About 6.9 million Ghanaians are adolescents, about 22 per cent of the total population.
This is a big opportunity for the future, yet if care is not taken, would turn out to be our woe.
Libraries, betting centres
In the communities in Accra, one would walk or drive for long before sighting a library. Meanwhile, betting centres are fast springing up daily at least 500 metres away from one's move.
These centres are often occupied by young people, who many are in junior high schools, senior high schools or tertiary institutions. Is our generation trading off the potential future of its youngsters for benefits such as gambling?
These young people spend greater parts of their productive hours of the day at these betting centres while they could study, learn artisanal skills or engage in trade.
I must admit, the Ghana Library Board (GhLA) in recent years is doing quite well in promoting library patronage in the country.
But as Oliver Twist, we "ask for more" since education is an essential tool for the human resource.
John Orfeur Aglionby, Anglican Bishop of Accra (1928) started in 1946 the Aglionby Library Management Committee, which worked with the British Council Advisory Committee towards library development in the Gold Coast (now Ghana).
The Ghana Library Board, 72 years ago (in 1950) was instituted by the GhLA.
The ideal and great concept which was the first in sub-Saharan Africa, currently has not up to a hundred public libraries in Ghana's stock.
The Ghana Library Board Act 372 charges GhLA to, among others: establish, equip, manage and maintain public libraries in the country; conduct in-service training courses, seminars and workshops for school library assistants (LAs) and tutor librarians; visit schools periodically to inspect and ensure that staff in these libraries perform to the required standards; reorganise schools and colleges' libraries and assist institutions interested in setting up libraries in their communities.
Are these functions not good enough for the development of the human capital of our nation and the youth?
As the basic unit of the society, the family, raises children with positive values – contentment, hardworking; schools add onto it through the teaching and learning of Religious and Moral Education (R.M.E).
But the emergence of betting and gaming and their addictive effects are visible threat to our nation.
Dear leaders, policy makers, religious and para-religious organisations, please arise and let's be resolute and jealously guard our values.
In doing so, we are also "showing the youth the way to" right success through hard work, proper investments and savings culture, honesty and loyalty, truthfulness and contentment.
The (GhLA) should make a policy to ensure every school has a standard resourced and functional library to equip its pupils at the basic level. Senior high schools should effectively implement "library periods" on their time table.
The librarians should equally be equipped to be up to their work and make the library an interesting centre, where the average pupil or student would love to visit at least weekly.
The government should take the lead in showing its commitment in putting up more community libraries to encourage CSOs, organisations and religious bodies to come on board.
I call on philanthropists to come to the aid of communities, especially Kaneshie/Mataheko in Accra, to provide library for its young people whose precious days and time are being wasted in the streets and betting centres.
The importance of library cannot be underestimated. It serves as gateway to knowledge and culture. The resources and services they offer create opportunities for learning, support literacy and education. In addition, it helps shape new ideas and perspectives that are central to a creative and innovative society.
The efforts of Mr Hayford Siaw, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GhLA, and his team are worth mentioning. But Ghana deserves more.
The home, which is the first and foundation of the society, should be used as an equipping centre to instil into young people hard work and diligence.
We cannot afford to have young people who desire to get money through betting at the expense of acquiring academic and entrepreneurial knowledge and skills for life.
Libraries should not be a luxury in our community but a necessity. Betting is endangering our young citizens. Young people: learning and hard work truly pay!
Arise our Motherland and save our young people. Let the country matter to you; don't say you don't care (from Ma Ɔman Yi Ho Nhia Wo patriotic song)