If we want to give the next generation of young South Africans a chance to forge a meaningful life, we have to teach them to read. Reading is an essential skill not only for success in school, but throughout your life. Children who learn to read typically continue their schooling to matric and beyond, giving them a far better chance to get the skills they need to compete in the job market.
Access to reading material
Sadly, millions of South African kids lack the ability to read for meaning – and it doesn’t help that they don’t have access to reading materials to start with. According to the M&G data desk, 74% of the country’s schools don’t have libraries. And according to Stats SA, nearly half of all children have never read a book or coloured in with a parent.
That’s about to change for the learners of the Mseki Primary School, in the heart of the township of Gugulethu, just 15km from Cape Town. The school received a brand-new, fully equipped library, thanks to a partnership between the Tomorrow Trust and cybersecurity company Mimecast.
“Our aim as a school is to build a better life for our children. One of the key things we want to achieve as a school is to produce learners who can read, as this is the basis for learning every other subject,” says Mseki Primary principal Philani Marubelela.
“This library won’t just make a difference to our learners: it will make a difference to the entire community. We want to promote a culture of reading.”
The first library of its kind
The library is the first of its kind in the area. It’s fully stocked with books donated by Mimecast and its employees, and also features an arts and crafts station. At the handover, excited learners crammed the new space, marvelling at the books and getting their hands dirty right away with colouring and crafts projects.
The Tomorrow Trust is a non-profit organisation that works with corporate partners to support vulnerable children throughout their academic journeys. This helps them reach their full potential as self-sustaining and proactive members of society. The Trust has been actively involved with Mseki Primary School since 2015.
By the same token, Mimecast has been partnering with the Trust for several years as part of its social responsibility goal of improving literacy and numeracy skills in the communities in which its people live and work. “There are unsung heroes building resilience in our under-resourced and ill-equipped communities. While we are focused on cyber resilience day-to-day, we hope that projects like these will help to build more long-standing resilience in our communities,” said Wanda Rodrigues, HR business partner, Mimecast.