21 May 2014
The Mandela Day Libraries project delivered its 43rd and 44th libraries, made from custom-adapted 12-metre shipping containers, to schools in Limpopo and Mpumalanga last week.
Launched in 2011 by the Nelson Mandela Foundation in partnership with charity Breadline Africa, the project has given thousands of disadvantaged pupils across South Africa access to books they otherwise would not have had.
Thabantsho Primary School
The 147 pupils from the impoverished village of Senwabarwana near the Botswana border situated in the farmlands of Limpopo walk many kilometres every day to get to Thabantsho Primary School, the 43rd Mandela Day container library recipient.
On 13 May, pupils at Thabantsho Primary School in the village of Senwabarwana in Limpopo province watched in awe as their all-new Mandela Day container library was unveiled. Breadline Africa project manager Jade Orgill said the sense of pride and community felt at the launch was “mind-blowing”.
“Principals, parents, tribal authorities and the student governing body were all in attendance, and everyone clearly understood and appreciated that the library, a community treasure, offers an opportunity to everyone to learn,” Orgill said.
The resources for the library, provided by Via Afrika Publishers, include teacher and learner support for grades 8 to 12 so that they too can access educational tools and teaching aids.
“Via Afrika Publishers, the sponsoring company, has not only given the learners and teachers access to books, but also provided access to the internet, a computer-based interactive curriculum and 400 ebooks on 15 tablet computers.”
Orgill said that during the preparations for the launch a number of Grade 7 pupils told her they’d never seen a library or that many books before. “This is an incredible contribution to the school and the community, whose socio-economic status can only be described as highly impoverished.”
Breadline Africa and the National Department of Basic Education have secured provincial support for the Mandela Day Libraries project, which includes librarian training for educators and teachers managing the container libraries.
In addition to librarian training to be facilitated by Breadline Africa in October, Via Afrika Publishers will visit the school for a period of six months to ensure the librarian is equipped to train other teachers and learners on how to get the maximum benefit out of the tablets.
Sohlazane Primary School
On 15 May, Sohlazane Primary School, located in the Tjakastad informal settlement in Badplaas, Mpumalanga province, became the 44th recipient of a Mandela Day container library.
Sohlazane Primary’s all-new container library features 15 tablet computers loaded with ebooks, internet access and the Via Afrika-registered Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement.
The interactive curriculum, which covers Grades 1 to 12, will enable pupils not only to read content, but also to click on pictures and watch videos to enhance their understanding of the work, and to test themselves in various subjects ahead of exams.
Besides providing internet access and interactive curriculum applications to the school’s 619 learners and 19 teaching staff, the centre will also be available to adults in the community for after-hours adult education, literacy and computer skills training.
SAinfo reporter and Nelson Mandela Day