School library a community gem

Vuyolwethu Hole

A NEW library at the Sapphire Primary School in Booysen Park will hopefully be a safe place in which pupils can unlock their imaginations by escaping into the magical world of books. But, more than that, it is hoped the new facility, which was opened yesterday, will bring hope to the disadvantaged community.

Not only is the school an institution of learning, it has also become a community centre of sorts – with a beading school for unemployed mothers and an HIV/Aids clinic just some of the services available.

Jaymelin Felix, 8, is among those who will benefit from the new library.

“This is so great and exciting. I can’t wait to read about animals. I’m going to be in the library every weekend; reading will help me get into the navy when I’m big,” Jaymelin said.

Grade 6 pupil Keanu Manis said having the facility would go a long way towards ensuring himself a bright future. “Walking to the main library was so far and so dangerous for me. Now I can do all my work and find information here at school.

“My dream of becoming a lawyer will soon be realised,” Keanu said.

The R400000 container library is the result of a partnership between funeral and insurance service Avbob, non-profit organisation Touch Africa and the Education Department to bring 30 mobile libraries to disadvantaged schools around South Africa.

Only 8% of public schools in South Africa have functional libraries. About 20000 schools are without libraries, which means pupils are denied access to information and regular reading opportunities.

Sapphire Primary has been involved with Touch Africa, which aims to restore children’s dignity by making school a better place, for five years.

School principal Bruce Damons said: “The library is open to much more than just the children. We want families to gather around it at weekends; we want to make reading and learning more fun.”

Avbob Group chief executive Frik Rademan said there were many challenges in education and the department could not solve them alone.

“We as corporate citizens need to lend a helping hand,” he said. “We wanted to launch a fracture project that would have a lasting impact on disadvantaged communities. We did our research and realised there was a lack of libraries in South Africa. We hope this project in partnership with communities will be long-lasting and sustainable.”

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