The Rotary clubs in South Africa launched a partnership with the Department of Basic Education in support of the Read to Lead campaign in Bedfordview.
The launch was held at the Humanitarian Distribution Centre of Southern Africa (HDCSA) on October 20 and was attended by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga.
The Read to Lead campaign was launched by the Department of Basic Education in 2015 and is set to continue until 2019.
The focus of the campaign is to improve the reading abilities of all South African children, whilst the main aim of the campaign is to ensure that learners are able to demonstrate age-appropriate levels of reading by 2019.
The campaign promotes reading as an essential component in creating, developing and inspiring the country’s future leaders.
Read to Lead also supports charities such as Rotary and literacy projects and programmes for children, young adults and adults.
Motshekga said she was honoured that the department had finally partnered with Rotary.
“This is a project that is very close to my heart because we want to get books to schools and set up libraries in all the schools in the country.”
“I am happy to see that teachers have taken the Read to Lead campaign seriously, because reading is a fundamental part of learning. Basic literacy skills can be learned and enhanced through reading. Learners cannot learn if they cannot read,” said Motshekga.
She said she had visited a number of schools throughout the country and seen how many learners cannot read, with most of those learners in rural areas.
“I didn’t realise the kind of work Rotary was doing. I thought it would just be 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,” said Motshekga.
Steve du Plessis, Executive Secretary for the Rotary Club of Johannesburg New Dawn, said Rotary was pleased to have the minister on board.
From June 2016 to July 2017, the HDCSA has distributed over 198 000 books to various schools, institutions, communities and home schooling entities.
“Another school recently collected 8000 books,” said du Plessis.
He said there are 204 Rotary clubs in SA and schools can approach any of these clubs to obtain books.
HDCSA receives books from the Second Wind Foundation in Seabrook, Texas, USA and they are shipped to SA in containers, and from the centre it gets redistributed to schools and institutions that are in need throughout Southern Africa.
“We are asking each club do at least one literacy project per year in the next two years,” he said.
He said schools, libraries, home-schooling parents and charity organisations can get books from the Distribution Centre through their nearest Rotary club by providing the club with a letter indicating the need for books.
“Working through a Rotary Club it is easy for the volunteers at the Centre to verify the authenticity of the request and they can get the books,” said du Plessis.
He said everything they receive is utilised accordingly.
“Even the containers used for shipping from the USA are used for different things. They can be used for school classes, libraries and even toilets in areas where there are no facilities,” he said.
Rotary Club Johannesburg (the oldest Club in Africa) and Rotary Club of Johannesburg New Dawn are working on a project in partnership with the University of Johannesburg and SANParks.
The Rotary E-Club of Southern Africa, D 9400, is also involved with this project and more than 200 libraries were identified that don’t have books in Mpumalanga.
“We are trying to ensure that every library and every school has books, but we need assistance with transporting the books from the Humanitarian Centre in Bedfordview or the Distribution Centre in Middelburg MP to various libraries and drop points.”
“We need the corporate and private sector to come on board and work with us in order to make an even bigger impact. This will be CSI (corporate social investment) well spent,” he said.
Source: Bedfordview and Edenvale News