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Address by the Minister of Education, MP, at the launch of the Vodacom library project, 21 November 2005, Ms Naledi Pandor speeches


Address by the Minister of Education, Ms Naledi Pandor, MP, at the launch of the Vodacom library project, held at Vodacom Park, Midrand
Vodacom Board of Directors
Distinguished guests

I am pleased to join you this evening to launch the Vodacom library project.
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of this project - and others like it - to do with books, learning resources in general, and reading.
There are three major problems that resource projects like this address.
First, most schools (public and independent) do not have relevant general reading materials, particularly materials written in indigenous languages.
Second, most schools do not have libraries.
Third, numerous communities, particularly in rural areas, do not have community or public libraries.
We are addressing all three problems.
It is absolutely critical that young children see and read books in their own languages. Language skills are the basic block upon which every other type of learning at school rests.
The state has the deepest responsibility to ensure that there is some form of library within walking distance of every child in this country.
I am very happy to report that the mini-budget (25 October 2005) provides for additional funding in this regard in two areas.
The first area is recurrent expenditure in schools, that is, that part of the budget used for textbooks, libraries and other running costs.
Those of you who watch what happens in Parliament will know that the Amendment Bill is nearly law – there is still one small hurdle to jump – and in that law there is further relief for schools in this regard.
That funding relief should be felt in our poorest schools in the coming year.
The second area is to do with community libraries.
Minister Manuel allocated an additional R12 billion over the current MTEF for higher education, hospital revitalisation, community libraries, social grants and cultural institutions.
The revitalization of old libraries and the building of new libraries in deprived areas are absolutely critical for the introduction of our children to reading.
When I think back to my own introduction to reading, the role played by the public library was central.
I must confess that as a school child I have no recollection of school libraries at all, but I do remember the thrill of browsing for books on the shelves of large public libraries. Of course, the Internet did not exist then. The wonder of the word was to be found in books on those enormous shelves – so many books, so much to know.
Yet with the advent of the Internet, libraries have become more and more electronic. Libraries have become resource centers that offer children access to the wealth of material available on the world-wide web.
Which is why a project like this is so important.
The introduction of e-libraries to our schools, through this project, will begin to address our current shortage of books and other general reading materials.
School libraries are integral to the South African school curriculum, to effective teaching, to meaningful learning and to enjoyable reading and writing.
School libraries are places where learners and teachers will have access to information in a variety of different forms, in print (e.g. books, magazines, newspapers, posters, charts, computers), in three dimensional models (e.g. globes, skeletons), in analog format (e.g. audiotapes, videos), and in digital format (e.g. DVDs), as well as information that can be sourced through ICTs (information and communication technologies) such as CD-ROMs and the Internet.
The Department of Education is currently developing a national school library policy.
In conclusion, I would like to thank Vodacom Foundation and Digital Partnership of South Africa for making this project possible. It is our responsibility to ensure that all the schools that have received Vodacom computers are using them for the agreed purpose. I invite other partners to come on board, and to expand this project to other needy schools.
Thank you
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Written By: Administrator Account
Date Posted: 6/30/2008
Number of Views: 715

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