According to the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), 8 out 10 children in South Africa cannot read properly. Pearson South Africa has partnered with The Community Chest of the Western Cape, who, through their education key deliverable, makes books and educational resources accessible to children in under-resourced schools across the Western Cape.
Both Pearson and Community Chest began this literacy drive on Mandela Day, 18 July 2021, by handing out thousands of books to 20 schools and learning centres. This created access to books and reading material for more than 6,900 children. These books formed the creation of startup libraries that predominantly focused on Grade R to Grade 3 learners.
After a brief delay due to the Omicron Covid-19 variant, the drive is gathering momentum once more with 17 packs of books and calculators distributed to schools and NGOs on Monday, 17 January 2022.
Dr Benadette Aineamani, director of Product and Services at Pearson South Africa says, “The key to learning begins with reading. We tend to take for granted the access we have to simple things like books and other reading resources. But I know that the introduction of these mini libraries has sparked the beginning of many bright futures.”
Keeping up the momentum, in August and September 2021, the Community Chest used the opportunity of Women’s Month leading up to National Reading Week, to visit more than 15 primary schools in the Western Cape and surrounding areas. The mini startup libraries we helped to create were especially welcomed by teachers as the packages included many relevant and current themes that align with the school curriculum.
Eltena Rethman from Community Chest says: “Our key focus during the month of August 2021 was the Girl Child, and how girls can use reading as their #superpower to empower themselves. For many young girls, walking to the local library is not an option and on top of this, lockdown has kept many children restricted.”
Considering that literacy should always be championed, Pearson and the Community Chest are planning to continue their collaboration into 2022 to see how they can make an impact on learners’ educational journeys on the Cape Flats. “Our purpose is to help everyone achieve their potential through learning and make books accessible at the earliest age possible. We do it because we are here to help people achieve their potential because we know that when we demonstrate the value of learning, we demonstrate the value of transforming lives,” says Aineamani. “The cause for literacy knows no bounds. Wherever we can seed it, we want to watch it grow. It takes partnerships and passion to get there.”
Going forward, Rethman says Community Chest’s goal is to continue to support and campaign for sustainable literacy interventions. This is done through donating and building startup libraries in local communities with community-based projects, NPOs, schools, after-school interventions and tertiary institutions. “This, we can only do through the help and support of partners like Pearson. Literacy is a critical component for building the future of young South Africans and we are proud to play our part in closing the gap.”
Pearson continues to ensure South Africans have a bright future with educational inspired programmes and partnerships, which are aimed at providing people with the tools and support they need to educate themselves.