Minister Angie Motshekga, together with AVBOB Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr Frik Rademan, spent the morning of 18 July 2016 at Tlhasedi Primary School at Hebron in the North West Province. The partnership between the DBE and AVBOB commenced in 2014 with a mission of delivering 40 container libraries to disadvantaged schools across South Africa.
A milestone of 33 libraries has already been reached and the new library at Tlhasedi Primary School will play a fundamental role in cultivating a culture of reading amongst the learners. The provision of libraries in public schools, particularly at primary level, remains one of the most critical approaches aimed at encouraging early grade teaching in our schools.
In her address, Minister Motshekga said that the new library will definitely enable the DBE to address challenges of literacy and numeracy in the country. The Minister called upon parents to continue to play a pivotal role in ensuring that learners read on a daily basis. Minister Motshekga emphasised that adults should develop a reading habit in order to encourage children to read. When compared to other developed countries, South Africa continues to fall short in terms of reading culture. Research that the DBE embarked on revealed that 95% of South African citizens are non-readers whereas 5% of the population are advanced readers. The Minister informed members of the community that, although the Department has made headway in achieving access to basic education, there are challenges of redress, equity, quality and efficiency that still need to be addressed. Minister Motshekga also reported that the learner repetition rate in schools present the country with major social challenges. Government will need to work hard to resolve this issue.
Mr Rademan said that the purpose of the partnership between the two parties was in support of the Read to Lead Campaign. “This collaboration will play a crucial role in the mobilisation of learners to adopt reading as part of their daily activities. The CEO thanked the DBE for having provided AVBOB with an opportunity to make a contribution to education. He also announced that AVBOB will increase the number to 50 new container libraries, having seen the challenges of literacy and numeracy within the country.
The library hand-over ceremony was also used to pay tribute to former President Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela for the role he played in the liberation of South Africa. Minister Motshekga said that Nelson Mandela International Day is a special day on which all South Africans should reflect on our achievement and challenges as a country. In tribute to Mandela’s legacy, AVBOB contributed R250,000 towards infrastructure improvements at the school. These improvements include new ablution facilities for the learners, the renovation of classrooms, as well as a donation of mini-libraries for the Foundation Phase classes. Minister Motshekga joined Mr Rademan in painting one of the three classrooms and added finishing touches to the new ablution blocks as part of their 67 minutes of community service.