Book donations help improve children’s reading

The children who read to the audience all received a book as a gift.

Children who previously had reading difficulties impressed an audience of 350 people when they got on stage and confidently read passages from their favourite books – some even wrote their own short stories and poems.

The event, arranged by Reading and Writing Solutions (RWS), an Athlone-based non-profit organisation, saw books to the value of R400 000 being handed over the 20 schools and one organisation, and with that, celebrated the children’s reading abilities.

Held at the Joseph Stone Auditorium on Thursday August 25, the donation was made possible by Literature for Africa, a faith-based organisation, which donated the books to RWS, who, in turn, donated it to the schools.

Jonathan Soeker from Literature for Africa said he hoped the donation would be a “valuable asset to your libraries”.

The schools which benefited from the donation include Athlone North, Belhar, Belthorn, Blossom Street, Bottelary in Stelenbosch, Bokmakierie, Cypress, Erica in Belhar, Factreton, Norma Road, Parkfields, Silverlea, Sunnyside, St Paul’s in the Bo-Kaap, Garden Village, Nomliganiselo in New Crossroads, Injongo in Khayelitsha, Plantation Road, and Summit primary schools, as well as Excelsior High School in Belhar and Evergreen Resource Centre in Blackheath.

Established two years ago, RWS trains volunteers to help primary school children who are struggling to read. Jeff Paulse, founder of RWS, said when they started in February 2014, with seven volunteers, they had no idea that the organisation would show phenomenal growth in a short time.

The organisation has also partnered with other organisations, and book publishers, to help schools with books for their respective libraries.

Mr Paulse said it is sometimes difficult to explain all the initiatives his organisation is involved with, and therefore he chose that the children must present what they have learnt, in order to get a “powerful message across”.

The children’s outstanding reading abilities impressed all those who attended, including principals and volunteers, and left many with tears of joy.

The Joseph Stone Auditorium’s foyer was also turned into an exhibition site, where various partners of RWS displayed the work they do, including Edulis, Campbridge University Press, MBLS Publishing, and Literature for Africa.

Professor Priscilla Daniels, from the University of the Western Cape’s Community Engagement Unit, said she salutes principals and teachers, because there are so many challenges when it comes to teaching. The unit is another partner of RWS.

“Classes are big and there are many social problems. Instead of looking at the problems though, Mr Paulse is one of those who look at solutions. The problems in South Africa are not insurmountable. And I want to commend you and thank you for the work that you are doing.”

She also pointed out that so many people respond to RWS community notices in the Athlone News, because “they want to do something (to help), they just don’t know where”.

Addressing the children, she added: “To all the brilliant young minds here today, if you can read and write, you can do the maths. Use your imagination. Nothing stands in your way. The doors of learning shall be open.”

Blossom Street Primary Scho-ol principal, Michael Davids, said it “indeed takes a village to raise a child”, when he thanked all those involved in the project.

“The principals’ passion impacts the teachers, and they impact the pupils, and the pupils impact others. Reading and Writing Solutions must never underestimate the work that you do. We appreciate your pioneering hard work. The pupils move our hearts – without you, schools mean nothing, it will just be a hollow shell. What I’ve heard today is amazing. You can all go to university,” he said.

Call Samantha Faure at 076 368 7898 or Jeff Paulse at 082 216 2460 or email readwrite 14@gmail.com or paulsejeff @gmail.com for more information about RWS.