DA MPL Pine Pienaar is to draft an urgent letter to sports, recreation, arts and culture MEC Xoliswa Tom requesting an extension of public library operating hours across the province.

A recent survey of their opening hours revealed most Eastern Cape libraries have limited operating hours while some are closed over weekends – an alarming finding over the matric exam period.

Pienaar said what was especially disturbing was the fact the province currently has the lowest matric pass rate in the country.

“Learners in the province already have few learning environments and libraries have become their best alternatives,” said Pienaar.

“Students need secure study facilities, supplementary reading material and access to the internet.

“Pupils in the Eastern Cape have already had setbacks in 2012, from unavailable textbooks and workbooks to dilapidated mud schools.

“It cannot be business as usual in the province, until all roleplayers take hands to better the lives of our future leaders.”

The survey revealed some libraries closed their doors at 1pm on Fridays while many did not open at all over the weekends. The Buffalo Flats and Parkside libraries are such examples. “This is especially important for kids living in informal settlements as some of them have to study by candlelight or don’t have proper work stations or access to internet.”

Education expert Graeme Bloch stressed the importance of libraries as pupils writing exams, particularly the matrics, needed quiet study places and access to the internet, as well as extra study material.

Despite questions regarding library opening times under its jurisdiction being sent to BCM yesterday, the metro failed to respond by the time of going to print.

Attempts made to get comment from the departments of education and of sports, recreation, arts and culture were unsuccessful.