Celebrities rally behind learning, teaching campaign

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Johannesburg - Celebrities around the country have declared their support for this year's Mandela Day and are rallying behind the call for quality learning and teaching by dedicating their time reading to children.

In partnership with the Department of Basic Education and Training and civil society organisations, the Nelson Mandela Institute (NMI) has urged South Africans to spend the day reading to young people and to donate books to schools.

Speaking at a media briefing at the Nelson Mandela Foundation on Thursday, NMI Executive Director Kimberley Porteus said that this year's Mandela Day is dedicated to the vision of the MDG 2, calling for quality education for all children.

"The Mandela Day will serve the spirit of South Africa to invest in education the way we never have before. Children's success in education is through the number of words they are exposed to in the first eight years," Porteus said.

Poet, singer and author, Nomsa Mazwai, said that education is the weapon to use to empower people.

"We must have justice in education in our lifetime and it needs to happen now," Mazwai said.

Mazwai and her sister Thandiswa Mazwai, who is a musician, will be writing a book and will visit various schools during the month reading to learners.

Archbishop Thabo Mokgoba, head of the Anglican Church, Southern Africa, said those who read were more likely to become leaders.

"Let's create a generation of leaders. Whilst I'll be preaching in my church on Mandela Day, I'll also be reading to young ones," said Archbishop Makgoba.

Business woman and mentor, Basetsane Kumalo, said after 1994, the country is now waging an economic struggle and education is the only tool to use to win it.

"Through education, we can fight poverty, prejudice and discrimination and win. Use education to better peoples lives and create a cadre of leaders, through Mandela Day, we can able to create change." said Kumalo.

She also urged the business sector to take part by responding to the call.

Basic Education Chief Director for Social Inclusion and Mobilisation in Education, Themba Kojana said that whilst government carries a responsibility to ensure quality learning and teaching, it can not work alone.

"It's the power of reading that ensures our children have better education," Kojana said.

Six ideas that have been identified for Mandela Day include gathering books for communities, organising plays for children, telling stories, reading together, make toys like blocks and puzzles for a local crSche and refurbishing or painting a local crSche or foundation phase classroom using cheery colours.