Over 8000 books to improve literacy in Free State

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bloemfontein - More than 8 700 books will be stocked in mobile libraries in an effort to improve the literacy levels of learners and teachers at primary and high schools across the Free State.

The books, which will be handed over on Thursday to the acting provincial MEC for Education, Mxolisi Dukwana, forms part of the South Africa Primary Education Support Initiative (SAPESI) and provincial department's South Africa Mobile Library Project.

The project, which was launched in 2005, aims to improve literacy levels by lending books to learners and teachers.

The main goals for the Mobile Library Project are to promote fluency in reading, assist educators in promoting literacy skills to learners and to support the school curriculum with a wide range of learning and teaching resources.

Furthermore, it is hoped that the concept of the mobile libraries will provide fun and excitement of reading to the learners, rather than the traditional view that a library is a place of study.

The project provides learners with the opportunity to interact with a wide range of books, while the librarians who travel onboard the vehicles are also able to train teachers at the schools, many of whom previously had only limited access to books themselves.

The books were collected from Sony group companies in seven countries, who had called upon employees to donate English children's books.

In response to the call, 5 700 books were donated by the employees, in addition, Sony Corporation in Tokyo contributed funds to SAPESI to purchase a further 3 000 children's books in languages indigenous to South Africa, while the provincial education bought another 3 000 books.

The project acquires used mobile libraries from Japan, where South Africa's provincial Departments of Education operate them to provide the loan of books to children and teachers at primary and high schools that do not have libraries.

The mobile libraries visit the recipient schools twice every school term to loan and collect books.

Librarians travel onboard the vehicles and advise teachers at schools how to select the appropriate books and use them in their lessons, as a result, not only do the children gain an opportunity to interact with a diverse range of books, but teachers are also able to learn how to utilise the materials and maximise their potential.

About 21 mobile libraries are currently visiting 380 schools in four provinces, Free State, Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal on a daily basis.

The first two mobile libraries arrived in Bloemfontein from Yokohama, Japan in September 2006 and currently 43 schools in the provincial districts, Thabo Mofutsanyana and Motheo are among the districts that benefit from the two mobile libraries.