Giving schools the gift of reading and writing

Childrens author, Manichand Beharilal, spoke about the importance of reading at the Mandela Day initiative of non-profit organisation, Reading and Writing Solutions.

Reading and Writing Solutions (RWS) honoured the memory of Nelson Mandela by donating thousands of books to 67 schools on Thursday July 27.

The Athlone-based non-profit organisation also invited 300 pupils to be inspired and entertained at the Joseph Stone Auditorium where the hand-over was done.

The organisation was selected as a beneficiary of the SA Booksellers Association, who ran a World Book Day campaign in collaboration with Jacana Media and Exclusive Books. The campaign saw special mini editions of some of the best loved tales of Africa created and published. These are Refilwe by Zukiswa Wanner; The Hyena and the Seven Little Kids by Carol Bloch and the Ugly Duckling by Sindiwe Magona. The public were invited to buy these books at a special price, and then drop them into donation boxes.

Jeff Paulse, the founder of RWS, explained that this was a national campaign – all branches of Exclusive Books, Bargain Books, Wordsworth Books, as well as Adams Bookshop in Pietermaritzburg participated. More than 20 000 books were donated.

On Thursday July 27, a total of 67 schools from across Cape Town and beyond, were the recipients of this generous donation. Some of the donated books will also be used at a new project of RWS, called Reading Rooms.

Among the schools which benefited, include Parkhurst, Hazeldene, Hyacinth, Merrydale, Yellow Wood and West End primary schools in Mitchell’s Plain.

In the greater Athlone area, beneficiaries included Athlone North, Alicedale, Belthorn, Blomvlei, Bokmakierie, Parkfields, Sunnyside, St Raphael’s, Willows, Heideveld and Red River primary schools.

Some early childhood development centres were also among the beneficiaries. Schools in Garden Village, Delft, Happy Valley in Blackheath, Bo-Kaap, Kensington, Factreton, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Belhar, Bellville, and Paternoster on the West Coast, also received the donation of books.

Children’s author, Manichand Beharilal, who is a partner of RWS and regularly donates books to the organisation, travelled from Johannesburg to attend the hand-over ceremony. Mr Beharilal has sold more than one million books within five years.

Speaking at the event, he said: “I want to congratulate all the schools who leave a literacy footprint to lead generations to come. I am very encouraged by organisations like Reading and Writing Solutions, and I am honoured to be a partner.

“Reading has to be promoted and encouraged, and therefore Reading and Writing Solutions is a necessary part of our reading arena. Nelson Mandela had the foresight. He knew the future of our country lay in the hands of our children.

“We can try and live the legacy of Nelson Mandela, to make a difference and contribute to our children’s future.”

One of the honoured guests at the event, was Michael-Grant Felix, a pupil at Belhar Primary School who is visually impaired and stutters. His school work suffered as a result of his condition, but after being tutored by Leonora Booysen, a volunteer with RWS, his results improved dramatically. A short video was made on his success story, which was shown at the event.

His grandmother, Petrina Thyssen, said his family were all proud of him.

“He passed well last year, and we trust the Lord that he will do better this year. I am so excited for the prospects and his future,” Ms Thyssen said.

Blossom Street Primary School principal, Michael Davids, said Mr Paulse had become a role model for all the principals who attended the event.

He thanked Mr Paulse from the podium, saying: “Thank you for religiously offering your time and expertise and really making a difference in the lives of the children. There are very few of you in the world. Thank you for all your hard work.”