The South African Rugby Union’s (SARU) major Corporate Social Investment (CSI) initiative to supply fully stocked mobile or refurbished libraries to previously disadvantaged schools, opened their second library at the Kwamanzini Primary School, in Pinetown on Thursday morning.
SARU launched the ambitious CSI project in June this year in Durban, a function that was attended by the Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, and SARU President Mr Oregan Hoskins.
Boks for Books is SARU’s first venture into CSI and was born out of a desire to make a different contribution to South African society. To achieve this, SARU has teamed up with NGO Blue Groove Africa as the facilitation partner.
South Africa currently holds approximately 12.3 million learners, although only 8% of these public schools have functional libraries. The majority of these are found in former ‘Model C’ schools where they have the resources to staff and stock libraries.
In 2011, the World Economic Forum ranked South Africa 140th out of 144 nations based on national educational assessments.
On Thursday, the second school and also the first to benefit in KwaZulu-Natal , the Kwamanzini Primary School, celebrated the opening of their mobile library.
Mr Hoskins, performed the official opening of the library together with Springbok No 8 Pierre Spies. Representing the Department of Education was Ms T. A. Gumede, the Acting District Manager.
Mr Hoskins said he hopes that the library will make a lasting and positive impact on not only the schools and the learners, but also the surrounding communities.
“Literacy is essential for the acquiring of skills and knowledge and those who can read are usually in a better position to make a very meaningful contribution to the social, welfare and community affairs of their respective communities,” said Mr Hoskins.
“I am therefore excited and extremely proud that SARU can, through Boks for Books, make a small but meaningful contribution to the South African society.”
Spies shared his reading experience with the excited learners and encouraged them to make use of the library.
“Reading is a wonderful and vital skill and I know that many learners unfortunately don’t have access to basic library facilities,” said Spies. “I am therefore very glad that SARU are assisting in the effort to make these facilities more accessible in some of the remote parts of the country.”
Kwamanzini Primary School is situated in the KwaNdengezi District in Pinetown and serve pupils in eight grades. According to school’s acting headmistress, Mrs Bongekile Mbatha, the library will benefit the entire community and it will also open its doors to the nearby Amanganga, Nkosenye, Bhongo, Botate and Umthende Primary Schools.
A grateful Ms Mbatha said: “The library will improve reading skills and hopefully create life-long readers amongst the learners who will no doubt become intellectually enriched. Learners, teachers and the non-teaching staff will all benefit from this generous gesture by SARU.”
A number of the SARU sponsors have already expressed their desire to partner with the national rugby body in this project. First to take up the challenge is ABSA who have recently committed to a library, which will be unveiled next month in Gauteng.
Furthermore, general public can also assist the Boks for Books campaign by purchasing the Springbok Literacy Bracelet which is available at leading news agents across the country or directly from Blue Groove Africa (www.bluegrooveafrica.com).