The drive to improve literacy rates of South African school children received a boost this week, with the Department of Basic Education taking delivery of three new mobile libraries donated by the government of Japan.
The donation was done through the South African Primary Education Support Initiative (SAPESI). SAPESI was launched in 2006 and currently has 32 vehicles serving 510 schools in all nine provinces. The expansion of the project will see 43 mobile libraries operational in South Africa in 2012. The Mobile Libraries are medium sized buses that have been converted into libraries; they offer approximately 2500 books across all eleven official languages catering for learners aged 6 to 11.
In its quest to provide and prioritise the provisioning of school library and information services, the Department of Basic Education partnered with SAPESI to cater for small schools which cannot practically sustain their own libraries.
Speaking at the handover of the mobile libraries, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga said the mobile libraries would aid the Department in its efforts to deal with the backlog of providing library facilities to all the learners of South Africa.
“Given the enormity of addressing these backlogs and financial implications thereof, we’ve had to opt for an incremental approach to the provisioning of library resources," said the Minister.
Minister Motshekga said the Department has a vision of providing access to lifelong quality education to all our learners and this begins with learners who can read and write.
“Many of our learners come from communities which don’t have libraries and it is shown that access to libraries improves learner performance and increases their chances of success. Without these resources there can be no equity to education and we are confident that these resources will assist in improving literacy in the communities which will benefit,” said the Minister.
Tad Hasunuma, SAPESI Founder and Director concluded, “There are 14 380 South African primary schools, only 8% have functioning libraries. We are confident that the SAPESI project will assist in reaching out to all communities within South Africa to bring the joy of reading to every child. We are thankful to be supported by the Department of Basic Education in our goal to reach 2 million children in 4500 schools with 1 million books and 100 mobile libraries by 2015”.
Images from the event: