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Empowering our youth book by book

In keeping with the spirit of uplifting communities in need, Renault South Africa, in partnership with the Imperial & Motus Community Trust, has donated a brand-new library and resource centre to the Khauhelo Primary School in Naledi, Soweto.

This library, like three similar facilities donated earlier this year, is intended to promote literacy and encourage a love of learning right from the primary stage of education.

The library donations by Renault, have been specially designed for use in junior schools located in underprivileged areas.  “We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate and empower our youth than by supporting them in their literacy journey from the very start.” says Jane Mabaso, Curriculum Manager at the Imperial & Motus Community Trust.

And the need for this couldn’t be more dire at this point.

In accordance, with an article published in Biz Community on 23rd May 2023, the headline quotes that the low literacy levels pose a threat on SA’s economic growth prospects, which is quite a daunting phenomenon.

Findings of an International literacy study Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) conducted in 2021, 8 out of 10 Grade 4 South Africans struggle to understand what they are reading, in any language.  It’s also alarming to note that South Africa’s score was the lowest of all the participating nations, with around 400,000 pupils assessed.

The Pandemic has undoubtedly had a negative impact on results from the previous survey conducted in 2017, with the percentage of Grade 4 children who cannot read increasing from 78% to 81%.  To place this in context, this is the first time South Africa has suffered a literacy reverse since 2006.  Another cause for concern is that only 5% of adults read to their children.

“This means most children just don’t have an early exposure to books,” says Mabaso, “which not only impacts their ability to comprehend the written word but compromises their cognitive and critical thinking skills in general.  As the world around us becomes more digital, reading and these skills are critical as the gateway to full participation in the digital economy is literacy”.

“This is why Renault has partnered with the Imperial & Motus Community Trust, which has now established 75 libraries in schools since 2003, in order to bring this library to Khauhelo Primary.  Our greatest hope is that it’ll open the doors of learning for children at this school from an early age,”

Khauhelo is a small public primary school with 429 learners from Grade R to Grade 7.  The school is headed by Ms. Tinny Thangoane, with a team of dedicated staff. Without funding available for a library, Renault South Africa stepped in to build a library and resource facility in conjunction with the Imperial & Motus Community Trust.  The welcoming room is stocked with over 6 000 titles, all covered in clear plastic to protect them and provide many years of happy reading.

The bright yellow décor, which echoes Renault’s corporate colours, also makes this a fun and inviting environment for the learners, who are aged between five and twelve.  The funding provided by the company allows for a dedicated librarian for a period of 5 years, to assist them and oversee library management, as well as to upskill the teachers who are permanent staff within the school to be able to run the library post the 5 years.

Renault has jointly funded four libraries to date this year.  The first of the four libraries supported by Renault was handed over to the Ntethelelo Foundation in Alexandra on 26 January.  Ntethelelo provides a safe haven for after-hours learning for girls and boys from Grade R to Grade 12 who live with domestic violence.

The second and third libraries were handed over to two schools within Soweto, at the Sivuleleni Primary School in Soweto on 31 January, and Mangwele Primary on 21 June, respectively.

“It has been heartening to see the joy the children have taken in looking through the books,” says Mabaso, “especially as we know that reading for pleasure not only improves educational outcomes but enhances personal development as well.”

“At Renault, we have a strong commitment to social change,” says CEO, Shumani Tshifularo “which is why we focus specifically on education in our corporate social investment programme.  By enhancing learning environments, we aim to contribute to the delivery of quality universal education; education that will provide meaningful access to society and the workplace for every child.

“The books in the new library are appropriate to all curriculum phases and we hope they’ll provide many hours of reading pleasure for the learners at Khauhelo.”

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