Trolley libraries make reading accessible and popular across SA

by venettaantonio0

The AVBOB Road To Literacy campaign, in partnership with Oxford University Press Southern Africa (OUPSA), aims to transform the lives of primary school children across South Africa by making reading and numeracy books accessible, especially to underserved schools. This public-nomination initiative provides children with books in their mother tongue. 

At an event held on 13 June 2024, at the AVBOB Head Office in Irene Link, Centurion, Carl van der Riet, CEO of AVBOB, and Karen Simpson, Managing Director of OUPSA, announced the beneficiaries of the 500 trolley libraries (a substantial increase from the 260 trolley libraries donated in 2023 and the 180 trolleys donated in 2022).

Each trolley library holds 500 books tailored to the CAPS curriculum and has an estimated value of R65 000. The total investment value for the 2024 campaign came to R32,5 million. Through public nominations, the trolley libraries were donated to deserving primary schools and educational Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs). 

According to Van der Riet, the over 7 000 nominations received this year posed a challenge for the AVBOB adjudicators as choosing the “best” motivations was not an easy task.

The 2024 national AVBOB Road To Literacy campaign had a mother-tongue focus, as children who learn to read in their mother tongue are more likely to stay and succeed in school (Kosonen, 2005).

This collaborative effort between AVBOB and OUPSA underscores our support of the Department of Education by providing CAPS-aligned resources to assist learners in improving reading proficiency and understanding. Since South Africa was ranked last out of the 57 countries in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study in 2021, it is such partnerships that make a difference in society. The study tested the reading ability of 400 000 students globally and showed that 81% of South African children could not read for comprehension in any of the country’s 11 official written languages. Our aim is to make such initiatives available to positively impact children by making reading accessible and popular.

In his address, Van der Riet said, “The skills of literacy and numeracy are not only fundamental human rights but also serve as the means for the pursuit and attainment of other human rights. They are the foundation for achieving education and the broader goal of improving livelihoods and reducing poverty.” 

He explained that AVBOB was established to help people through challenging times and has never veered from that original purpose. “We still exist for the people, and our mutual status is a cornerstone of who we are,” he added. Van der Riet further stated that AVBOB is owned by its members as it is a mutual society, and it exists solely to serve its members’ interests and that of the wider community. “Our Environmental, Social, and Governance strategy underscores this commitment, guiding us to make decisions that are not only profitable but also sustainable and socially responsible,” he said.

Guest speaker Gugulethu Ndebele, Executive Director of the Oprah Winfrey Academy for Girls (OWLAG), provided valuable insight into the importance of mother tongue reading. She praised AVBOB’s long-standing and unwavering commitment to education and emphasised that the trolley libraries are only effective if they are integrated into other teaching activities and strategies to achieve a holistic education outcome. 

Simpson from OUPSA said, “Our mission at Oxford University Press is to transform lives through learning. We believe that partnerships with like-minded organisations, such as AVBOB, are essential in realising our vision to positively impact the lives of millions of learners anytime, anywhere. Our collaboration with AVBOB has strengthened over the last three years, and we are exceptionally proud of our involvement in the 2024 Road To Literacy campaign, which supports so many deserving schools where access to the right literacy resources can make the biggest difference to learning outcomes.”

To view a full list of beneficiaries of the 2024 AVBOB Road To Literacy campaign, click here: https://www.avbob.co.za/newsroom/trolley-libraries-make-reading-accessible-and-popular-across-sa 

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