AVBOB have partnered with Touch Africa, embarking on a three year campaign to provide 30 mobile libraries to previously disadvantaged schools throughout the country.

South Africa has 12.3 million learners, 386 000 teachers and 26 292 schools (including 1098 registered independent or private schools). Roughly 6000 are high schools (grade 7 – 12) and the rest primary (grade 0 – 6).

The right to education has been a key legislative priority since 1994, with the legacy of apartheid having caused the education system to become fragmented. Black schools in both rural and urban areas were left under resourced.

Only 8% of public schools in South Africa have functional libraries, which are mostly situated in former Model C Schools. Approximately 20 000 schools are without libraries, which means learners are denied access to information and regular reading opportunities.

It was for these reasons that Touch Africa and AVBOB decided to embark on this journey of making a difference in the lives of approximately 30 000 primary school children (Grade R – 7) over a three year period.

Each school will be supplied with a refurbished container, which will house a minimum of 2000 books.

The libraries will be run by a “library committee” which is made up of teachers, parents and community volunteers. The school timetable will accommodate library periods each day in order to encourage children to utilise the library for both pleasure and reference reading. Touch Africa will carry out the training of the committee and ensure that there is access to regular book donations over time.

They will also monitor the progress of the children at each school from baseline research in order to provide reports on how the provision of the library improves the classroom results.

The first of the 2013 projects was launched on the 18 January 2013, at the Shukumani Primary School in Tembisa, Gauteng. The school received a refurbished Booktainer, and R70 000 worth of books. Many books were privately donated, some were brand new and at least R30 000 worth of books were donated by the Rotary International Book Project, based in Bedfordview, Johannesburg.

Private School, Charterhouse Preparatory, based in Honeydew, Johannesburg, kindly allowed their librarian, Mrs Debra Briers, to become involved in this project. Charterhouse will continue to work with the school during 2013 to assist with librarian training and the transfer of skills.

Mr Frik Rademan, CEO of AVBOB stated “ AVBOB have embarked on this journey in order to contribute to the unleashing of potential inherent in each and every one of the young learners, whose lives we will be touching over the next three years.

It is a well-known fact that learner performance in literacy is one of the biggest challenges facing the national government. This project is aimed at taking on the challenge as a socially responsible corporate citizen. We believe we can make a difference in bringing about positive change. As an insurer, we are taking out insurance against the increased levels of illiteracy and unemployment.”.

Mr Robert Sangweni, headmaster of the school, is delighted that his school has been chosen to pilot this worthy project. His teaching staff has been fully behind the project and are looking forward to having the facility to assist their teaching efforts.

If you would like to assist this project by donating books aimed at young readers, please contact Elise Fish on 076 170 6449 or Mike on 083 601 3287, email elise@touchafrica.info ormike@touchafrica.info