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An agreement between Rotary districts in South Africa and the
Department of Basic Education has been signed to help promote reading throughout the country in the
next two years.
agreement, the 204 Rotary clubs in Districts 9350, 9370 and 9400 will be asked
to participate in at least one literacy project at a public early childhood
development centre, primary or secondary school of their choice in each of the
next two years.
Minister of Basic
Education Angie Motshekga pages through one of the many thousands of books
available to schools at the Rotary
Humanitarian Distribution Centre. With her are the centre’s chair, PDG Shirley Downie,
Assistant Public Image Coordinator, Steve du Plessis and DG Jankees Sligcher
to ensure that South Africa becomes a reading nation,” Minister of Basic
Education Angie Motshekga said at the launch of the Read-to-Lead partnership. Getting
young people to read and write for school, leisure and work is critical to the
development of the country’s social fabric. “It is my ardent wish to ensure that
every school ‘puts a book in every child’s hands’ so that we accomplish the
national goal: ‘A Reading Nation is a Leading Nation’.”
projects may include collecting and donating books, building school libraries,
donating trolley libraries or reading corners, establishing and sustaining
reading clubs, supporting in-school literacy interventions, holding community
readathons or “booknics”, or supporting International Literacy Day and World
Book Day activities.
is the art of opening your mind and if Rotary can help people to open their
minds to dream about what they can do, they will be getting on with life so
much better,” said Jankees Sligcher, governor of District 9400, who attended
the launch at the Rotary Humanitarian Distribution Centre in Bedfordview.
of the agreement, Rotary will also donate learning and reading resources from
the Humanitarian Distribution Centre and the literacy project, conducted by the
Rotary Clubs of Middelburg, (D9440) and Grand Bend (D6330, Canada), to the
department for distribution to public schools throughout the country.
together to inspire our youth to read, Rotary and the Department of Basic
Education are creating exceptional future leaders and making an even bigger difference,”
said Lynette Stassen, governor of D9350.
keeping with Rotary’s area of focus of supporting education, we are thrilled to
be involved with this programme,” said DG Wally Jacobs of D9370.
for Rotary’s help, the department will allow Rotary to use its logo and the
Read-to-Lead logo on projects associated with the programme and will also provide
a list of the public schools in need of library resources.
also “sensitise” its private business partners to the agreement and possibly
inspire joint ventures to extend the reach of literacy initiatives. The basic
education department will do the same with other provincial education
departments to help clubs and districts access schools chosen to receive
district governors will regularly report back to the department on the projects
undertaken by the clubs in their districts. At the launch, volunteers filled 42
boxes destined for 21 schools with a selection of books from the Humanitarian
said the four-year long Read-to Lead campaign, which began in 2015, was a
national response to national, regional and international studies. The findings
of these studies revealed that South African children could not read at
expected levels or execute tasks demonstrating key skills associated with
ultimate objective is to ensure that by 2019 all learners are able to demonstrate
age appropriate levels of reading,” she said. The campaign sought to provide energy,
direction and inspiration across all levels of the education system and beyond,
including in homes, churches and malls. “We are encouraging schools, families
and communities to make reading a regular and established part of their daily
routine.” Motshekga said there were many benefits to reading as a foundational skill:
Literate parents are more likely to send their children to school, literate people
are better able to access continuing educational opportunities and literate
societies are better geared to meet developmental agenda.
Volunteers help pack
books into 42 boxes destined for 21 public schools to give them a
sample of the resources available at the Rotary
Humanitarian Distribution Centre in Bedfordview
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Council (Unesco) declared literacy
a human right, a tool of personal empowerment and a means for social and human development,
she added. “Literacy is at the heart of basic education for all and essential
for eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving
gender equality and
sustainable development, peace and democracy. A good quality basic education
equips learners with literacy skills for life and further learning.”
said the department was already steering the formation of reading clubs,
spelling bee projects and a book flood campaign. In conjunction with its
partners in business and society, it had also already provided more than 5,000
schools with library facilities, library resources, reading materials, trolley
libraries and digital resources. It had also trained 200 library assistants by
November 2016 and was promoting the campaign on digital platforms. “We welcome
this partnership. We are assured that many learners will benefit from our
collective efforts in supporting schools, as it will play a crucial role in
improving learners’ reading ability,” said Rotary Humanitarian Distribution
Centre chair Shirley Downie.
visit to the centre, Motshekga said she had not realised the kind of work
Rotary was doing. “I thought it would be just a few books, only to find
numerous containers of books. This is a great initiative and I will be placing
an order because I have promised books to so many schools,” she told the Bedfordview and Edenvale News.
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- Written by Carole Stier
- First published in Rotary
Africa, a member of the Rotary World Magazine Press
- The opinions
expressed in this make-up article do not necessarily represent the opinions of
Rotary eClub One and its editorial staff