About 85% of South Africans do not read regularly, which means that even those of us who can read, do no read enough – as opposed to the 85% of people in leading countries who read regularly, Mrs Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education said today.
Motshekga was the guest of honour at the Tlhasedi Primary School where the AVBOB Foundation donated a school library and also opened new classrooms and changing-room facilities as part of the Mandela Day celebrations. The Tlhasedi school has been in the news regularly the last few years because of its bad conditions – but today it got more than R600 000 in amenities in one sweep.
Motshekga said AVBOB had its finger on the pulse as far as the know-how on where the greatest need in education in South Africa lies, namely, that a culture of literacy has to be established. AVBOB’s library project, which has already resulted in the donation of 32 school libraries to needy schools countrywide, is according to Motshekga, exceptional. The Tlhasedi library is AVBOB’s 33rd donation.
According to the minister, teachers, parents, school governing bodies and learners must work together to get the most benefit out of the libraries. Motshekga went further and said that the absence of a reading culture in the country is not the only problem, but that the effectiveness of teachers is also a problem. She is close to releasing a report that indicates there are cases where teachers only teach 40% of the prescribed curriculum.
AVBOB’s commitment for the establishment of a reading culture is of critical importance. Especially encouraging is that AVBOB has decided to expand its library project further.
“In countries like Russia where 95% of the people read, 65% can read at an advanced level,” she said.
“There is also a difference between reading for pleasure and reading to gain knowledge. Therefore, our children must read much more. If we could read like we can sing, we would be a leading country,” Motshekga said.
Motshekga added that the school year repeat rate internationally stands at about 1%. In South Africa’s neighbouring countries, the rate is about 5%, but in South Africa it is 10% – meaning that
1, 2 million learners out of 12 million fail every year. The cost of all learners repeating their grades is enormous, and this money could be spent elsewhere.
Mr. Frik Rademan, Group Chief Executive of AVBOB, said the positive attitude of learners, teachers and parents of Tlhasedi Primary School made the donation of the library and the additional renovations to the school building an easy decision.
“The government has great challenges. We will continue to work with the department to invest in all of our futures. Therefore we have already decided to expand the library project’s initial target from 40 to at least 50.
“I also have a special message for our honoured guests – the learners – here today: and that is to never believe that you cannot achieve great heights. Through reading you can change your life – don’t think it is just for people in the affluent schools with lots of money. I know that great leaders will come out of this region,” Rademan said.
Nakedi Pilane, Assistant General Manager: Sales and Operations at AVBOB, said when AVBOB decided in 2012 to donate libraries to needy schools, only 8% of these schools in South Africa had libraries.
Ms. Seitshiro Ntwane, acting principal of Tlhasedi Primary School, in a moving speech said: “We will read and then become leaders. The rest will follow.”
“We know hard work is rewarded with success. Therefore we are grateful to AVBOB for the donation. If we dream, we will dream big. And if someone says no, then it is an opportunity for the next person. We will keep asking until we get a yes,” she said.