Libraries on the move in Bonteheuwel

From left are, Mogamat Allie Petersen, Grade 11; Mike Ehret, an executive at Novus Holdings; Bonteheuwel High School principal, Nicola Pather, Suhail Parker, Grade 12; Ammarah Isaacs, Grade 8; Emihle Sopazi, Grade 11; circuit manager for the Western Cape Education Departments Metro Central Education District, Sigi Oberkleiner; and New Africa Education Foundations chief executive officer, Ahmed Motala.

After many years of not having a library, Bonteheuwel High School received a donation of five mobile libraries on Friday January 26.

Each of the five mobile libraries is specifically designed to meet the literacy needs of the five grades at the school. The mobile libraries can be wheeled from one classroom to another, which makes them easily accessible also.

Principal Nicola Pather said the school is grateful for the donation, as it would go a long way to improving literacy levels, which in turn, would help with the improvement of all other subjects.

“We used to stack books in the classrooms, but with classrooms now having up to 50 pupils each, it was difficult to keep it there, and we had to remove it. The teachers are very excited about this mobile libraries. There are more books available besides those currently in the mobile units. What is great is that each unit is on the level of the pupil in the grade. “The reading can ensure their vocabulary increase, and with this, other subjects can improve as well,” Ms Pather said.

She explained that she belonged to an organisation called Partners for Possibility, from whom she received an SMS to inform her that the school could apply for these mobile libraries.

The donation was made possible through Novus Holdings, a print and label company. The mobile libraries form part of the company’s corporate social investment initiatives. New Africa Education Foundation, a non-profit organisation, facilitates the project for Novus.

Ahmed Motala, the chief executive officer of New Africa Education Foundation, said his organisation had also partnered with the Department of Basic Education.

“This project started after the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, launched the Read to Lead campaign. She said the department cannot do it on its own and asked corporates in South Africa to assist to improve literacy levels in the country. Novus Holdings came to the party. Many schools don’t have a place for a formal library, and that’s what puts corporates off. That is how the idea of mobile libraries came into being. The libraries are aimed mostly at creating a love for reading, and the kind of books in these mobile libraries are are exciting – whether it is fictional or non-fiction. The Department of Basic Education also helps us identify the schools in need of these libraries,” Mr Motala said.

Mike Ehret, from Novus Holdings, said his company started this national initiative 18 months ago, and had already spent R800 000 on it. Bonteheuwel High School was the second school in Cape Town to benefit from it. The first was Soneike High School in Kuils River.

“Education is the key to unlock the future. It is also important for us as corporates to be responsible. These libraries offer an exciting world of discovery for the pupils and we are proud to be a part of it. The pupils here are so enthusiastic about it and that is the kind of positive attitude one needs,” Mr Ehret said.