In the remote Great Karoo in Northern Cape, people are discovering a world as beautiful and exciting as the first page of a new book, full of adventure and the promise of a new life. Using resources from AVBOB’s Road to Literacy initiative, the Hantam Community Education Trust (HCET) has given its students a key to the magical world of reading.
Collaboration’s Transformational Potential
AVBOB, Oxford University Press Southern Africa, and the Department of Basic Education came up with the brilliant idea for the Road to Literacy campaign. Where are they trying to go? To encourage a love of reading and improve elementary students’ aptitude in mathematics.
The effort was a huge success, providing 260 schools in rural areas with library carts stuffed with books worth an estimated R50,000. One of the most recent deserving recipients is the HCET, which is responsible for an early childhood development centre, a primary school, and an intermediate school.
- “Our library stands as a beacon of hope and sanctuary of knowledge for our children,” says HCET librarian Shane Liebenberg. Here, they learn to believe in the power of tales.
Transportation Learning Centres (Trolley Libraries)
The idea of a mobile library on a tram is a creative approach to spreading information and inspiration to far-flung communities. The utility of these travelling libraries is staggering. Libraries are more than just a collection of books; they are portals to a better life.
Mary-Ann Smith, director of HCET, spoke about how these books will have a profound effect on the kids and the school library.
- “The children that will have access to these books live on farms within a 50km radius of the school,” Smith said. “Being able to take books from the library is something the whole family can enjoy while stimulating their imagination and love of reading.”
The Alarming Reality of South Africa’s Literacy Crisis
Learners in South Africa ranked dead last amongst 50 countries in a study of reading proficiency released earlier this year. This sobering insight has prompted new initiatives to improve literacy across the country.
Angie Motshekga, minister of basic education, called on parents and the whole community to support education. She told reporters that education begins before children even enter kindergarten.
What’s crucial about PIRLS and reading is realising that education does not begin with kindergarten. The baseline is zero. Minister Motshekga acknowledged that, while the department can take action, so can individual families.
The Future Direction
While we should all take pride in the progress made by AVBOB’s Road to Literacy initiative, we must all work together to improve South Africa’s educational system. To guarantee that every kid acquires reading skills, schools, parents, communities, and groups like AVBOB must continue to collaborate.
Each new chapter provides a chance to explore uncharted territory, find inspiration, realise a long-held goal, and create a better future for oneself. Like Liebenberg said, “With every turn of a page, there is a universe of possibilities, waiting to be explored by a reader.”