It is vital to encourage reading for pleasure among school-going children, as this will not only encourage them to finish school and help build a better life for themselves but also help bridge the gap between illiteracy and unemployment in the country. This is the view of Peter Metcalfe, Group Executive: Sales and Marketing Novus Holdings, who spoke on the internationally observed Day of Education yesterday at Boys & Girls Clubs of Alexandra.
Boys & Girls Clubs South Africa (BGSCA), which are facility based after-school programs for school-aged children, provide daily structured programmes on weekdays where children can explore their talents and abilities in a supportive environment. Novus Holdings donated two mobile libraries to the Boys & Girls Club of Alexandra yesterday. The mobile libraries can be wheeled from one classroom to another, making them easily accessible to all the children at the Club. The event was attended by Pieter Swanepoel, Managing Director of Tupperware South Africa, as well as Ahmed Bull, Business Manager of Operations and Legal at Tupperware South Africa. Both are board members of BGCSA. “It is vital for kids to master reading for pleasure in order to stay on track and in school. It also helps spark imagination, which in turn helps the kids to discover new words and ideas,” said Metcalfe. “We hope that these stunning mobile libraries will have a long-term, positive impact on the 400 children at the Boys & Girls Club of Alexandra.”
Metcalfe’s comments come at a time when thousands of children returned to class as the 2019 school year kicked off this month. In addition, recent research suggest that 78% of South African children in grade 4 cannot read, while South Africa has the highest rate of youth unemployment in the world at 52,8%. Laura Parker, Executive Director of BGCSA, says that the BGCSA team focuses on encouraging children to stay in school and not drop out before they reach grade 12. “We help prevent kids from dropping out by keeping them engaged in school throughout their school going years, with daily tutoring and academic support, and by ensuring they are on track to graduate year after year.” Parker firmly believes that reading is a critical life skill that can go a far way in alleviating the issues that the country faces, and that starts with access to exciting and appealing books. “This is why at all of our Clubs we have books, book clubs, and reading programs, which we make part of the everyday schedule.”
Parker believes that by providing a well-resourced and caring space for young people, they are surrounded by others who support them – both their peers and adults. This environment leads to academic success, a healthy lifestyle, and developing the resilience and character it takes to be a self-sufficient adult. “Our work is proactive, predictable, consistent, and long term – all which is necessary to change the cyclical nature of poverty.”
The donation of the mobile libraries was coordinated by Ahmed Motala, CEO of the New Africa Education Foundation (NAEF), who has assisted Novus Holdings to donate 39 mobile libraries to schools in South Africa to date. Novus Holdings has pledged to continue to donate these mobile libraries to schools across the country.