Speaking to SAnews during the official handover of a container library to Tlhasedi Primary School in Hebron near Ga-Rankuwa in Pretoria, the Minister said the day is an opportunity for her to do things in her personal capacity to contribute to changing the country.
“He taught us to live beyond ourselves and [be] of service to [others]… Every year, we have to remind our children that these are noble principles that we have to live by,” said the Minister.
She said parents should instil in their children the values of serving humanity. Libraries, she said, are a huge service to the community.
“I had the privilege of working in Nelson Mandela’s office as a director, and I have seen him work. He would always ask us to provide him with progress reports. Even on his last day of office he worked to change people’s lives,” said Minister Motshekga.
The library was donated to the school by Avbob through its partnership with the Department of Basic Education. It is the 33rd to be handed over since the partnership started. Each container library is worth R350 000 and is equipped with 2 500 books.
The Minister encouraged learners to make use of the library and read to improve literacy levels in the country.
“Research shows that about 85% of South Africans do not read. The culture of reading is very poor in our country. I call on parents to read in front of their children and ask their children to read for them,” she said.
She said the overall performance of learners in many subjects is affected by reading skills, including mathematics, as it requires them to follow instructions.
The Minister told SAnews that it will take just over three years to review if the libraries that are being rolled out throughout the country are being used efficiently.
“Only 6% of our schools in rural areas have libraries. We have committed ourselves to build at least 1 000 libraries in one year,” said the Minister.
She said partnerships such as the one with Avbob will help to achieve this target. Avbob CEO Frik Rademan said they chose to contribute to the education sector after identifying a lack of libraries in primary schools.
“Even if you buy an iPad for a child, if they cannot read, you are wasting time,” he said.
Rademan said the company board has decided to increase the number of container libraries to be donated to schools from 40 to 50. The company also donated two new classes and renovated toilets at Tlhasedi.
Acting school principal Audrey Ntwane said she requested a donation of a library from Avbob because she believes it will enable learners to grow. She said sometimes teachers would ask learners basic questions but learners would struggle to provide answers because they do not read.
“This library is very relevant to our learners because it has books for lower grades as well, so they will get used to reading from an early age,” she said.
She pleaded with parents and the community to protect the school, as it is their children’s future.
“Public schools like these ones need educators, parents and the community at large. As the school staff alone, we cannot make it work. We are calling on parents to play their part in helping us give their children a brighter future by protecting the facilities as well,” said Ntwane.
The school has just over 900 learners, with 25 staff members.
Ntwane said most of the learners’ parents are unemployed, although some learners come from middle class families.