‘Boks for Books’ to get kids reading

14 August 2013

Gcobani Higher Primary School in Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape will become the second school to benefit from the South African Rugby Union’s (Saru’s) “Boks for Books” literacy campaign when it opens its doors to a new library on 22 August.

The school was identified for the resource as part of the Boks for Books campaign, a new corporate social investment initiative by Saru to supply fully stocked mobile or refurbished libraries to previously disadvantaged schools.

Saru CEO Jurie Roux said in a statement that the Boks for Books project was still in its infancy, but he welcomed the opening of the first Saru-backed library.

‘First step’

“This is just the first step of the campaign,” said Roux. “Over the coming months and years we will be opening more libraries and announcing other initiatives to promote literacy among our children.

“I am also excited to announce that a number of our sponsors have immediately expressed their desire to partner in this project and we will be making further announcements in due course. We are committed to making a difference by putting something back into South African society.”

Renovation work on the Gcobani Higher Primary School project started on 1 July, and just a month later the library is ready to be used, fully shelved and stocked. The training of the librarians was completed on Monday.

23 new libraries a year

The decision to choose the school was based on a number of factors, including the need in the Eastern Cape, the quality of leadership at the school, the needs of the learners, and the welcoming of the project by the community at large.

The first school to chosen for the project was the KwaManzini Higher Primary School in KwaZulu-Natal. The official opening of its library is due to take place in September.

Saru is planning to provide a minimum of 23 libraries per year across South Africa, which aligns with 23 players in a team. The project will be assisted by corporate and public sponsorship to ensure that the target is reached.

The acting principal of Gcobani Higher Primary School, Mrs Mjila, said the library “will be of great assistance to our learners as well as the community at large. We want to ensure that our learners become independent and are able to research information for their learning subjects as well as read for pleasure to broaden their minds.”

Saru noted that South Africa currently has about 12.3-million learners, yet only 8% of public schools have functional libraries. The majority of these are found in former “Model C” schools which have the resources to staff and stock libraries.

In 2011, the World Economic Forum ranked South Africa 140th out of 144 nations based on national educational assessments.

‘Springboks are made in schools’

Boks for Books was launched in Durban last month by Roux, Saru president Oregan Hoskins, Springbok captain Jean de Villiers and a number of players from various national squads – the Springboks, Springbok Sevens, Junior Springboks and SA Women.

“Saru is a caring corporate citizen and our teams have contributed to social cohesion and nation building by their performances on the field,” said Roux. “But we wanted to find other ways to contribute to national life.

“We chose education and literacy as a focus area as it is priority for a national government and there are clear synergies with rugby. Springboks are made in schools, and every one of them values the chances they have been given through their schooling.

“Our Boks for Books campaign will provide opportunities for children who could not have expected them otherwise, and while we’re not trying to make them into Springboks on the field, we will be hoping that they turn them into champions in the classroom.”

Bok skipper De Villiers added: “I was fortunate enough to go to a school which provided me with every opportunity I could have hoped for, both in education as well as on the playing field. Without my school background I wouldn’t be here today.”

SAinfo reporter and SA Rugby