Mandela Day project delivers 37th container library

14 March 2014

The Mandela Day Libraries Project, an innovative response to the shortage of libraries at South African schools, delivered its 36th and 37th libraries – made from custom-adapted 12-metre shipping containers – to Moime Primary and Refentse Primary in Limpopo province in February.

The libraries were provided by charity Breadline Africa and sponsored by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

Breadline Africa and the GIA are among a number of NGOs and corporates that have partnered with the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory to drive the container library project, with corporates providing financial support, sponsorship of books and employee volunteers, and literacy organisations, book donation agencies and publishers providing books, educational equipment and materials.

Launched in 2011, the project has given thousands of disadvantaged pupils across South Africa access to books they otherwise would not have had.

The arrival of the 36th Mandela Day library at Moime Primary, south-east of Tzaneen, on 19 February was met with an enthusiastic response from the school and community. Serving approximately 300 learners from Grades R to 7, Moime Primary is now the only school in the entire district with a library.

With approximately 1 400 books, the library is off to a great start. Breadline Africa’s partner NGO, Soul Buddyz, will be donating funds to reinstate life skills and literacy programmes at the school.

On the following day, 20 February, the 37th Mandela Day library was delivered to Refentse Primary in the heart of the Namakgale district near Phalaborwa. The school has over 800 learners and is severely overcrowded, with over 100 pupils crammed into each classroom.

Speaking at the handover, Room to Read director Chris Mothupi told the learners to “continue working hard and be diligent”. Room to Read, an international literacy development organisation which has partnered with the school, has greatly improved the literacy and language skills of its pupils.

Marked across the world on 18 July each year, Mandela Day aims to inspire people to take action to change the world for the better and, in doing so, to build a global movement for good.

Breadline Africa’s highly successful Container Programme converts old shipping containers into vital community structures for a range of projects including community kitchens (Cans4Feeding), child day-care centres (Cans4Learning), health clinics and ablution blocks (Cans4Hygiene), classrooms for teaching vocational skills (Cans4Skills), and sports club changing rooms (Cans4Clubs).

SAinfo reporter and Nelson Mandela Day