Young people from Soshanguve have taken on the task of reviving the culture of reading in schools in their community by donating mini-libraries. The initiative is supported by members of #Thusangwanageno, who came together to donate funds to build a mini-library at the school.
The 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy study tested reading comprehension of learners in their fourth year of primary schooling and placed South Africa in last place out of 50 countries due to information that 78% of learners in the country could not read meaningfully.
“I was dismayed by the statistics which indicated that close to 50% of South Africans, especially the youth, can’t read and comprehend what they are reading. We always encourage kids to play but we should include reading as part of that,” said, Founder and member Dr John Molepo said.
He said they opted to focus on promoting literacy in young learners, especially those within township schools, as there were not enough libraries for them to access hence this project was deemed important. The first school to go through the Mini Library experience was Reitumetse Secondary School.
The Principal of Reitumetse, Mogaka Sepeng said the school and its learners were happy to have a library of their own again.He said they initially had no library due to space constraints theirs was being used as a temporary staff room. “To be honest, the reading culture is something that has been neglected for some time in our country; it’s still a challenge that not only affects the learners but the community at large,” said Sepeng.
Businessman and donor, Reuben Serumula said that with the advent of the 4th industrial revolution more children had access to digital tools and more often than not they were exposed to scandals and mostly negative things about society.
Serumula said it was for this reason that he was eager to take part in the initiative to make reading more fashionable and accessible. “The saying that education is the key to success is not going to cut it for these kids or motivate them. We need to make it fun and in style but also provide them with the spaces to read in,” he concluded.