EDUCATION

Students create libraries

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One of the most uplifting stories to come out of the activities at our universities countrywide is the new partnership between the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and READ which sees student teachers – third year, foundation phase of the Faculty of Education – using their imagination to make free, portable libraries so that books and other reading material can be more accessible to young learners.

This innovative learning initiative module falls within UJ’s Faculty of Education so students must complete it as part of their curriculum. Since its inauguration, students have shown some outstanding origination.

The module supports READ’s dedicated drive for literacy in South Africa. The READ Education Trust established in 1979, is an NGO that helps South Africans develop their skills in reading, writing, learning, information and communication. The organisation works with the Department of Education to implement teacher training and literacy projects in schools.

The students also get support from READ in the form of being given a forum to interact with children at the Reading Starz workshops. Here they present books and read to the children – and the interaction gives them the opportunity to practise their theoretical learning in a classroom-like environment.

Recently third-year teacher students at the UJ Soweto campus who’d made portable free libraries were given an exciting opportunity to showcase their creations: an event for other students to act out various Roald Dahl works.

To create a free mobile library was a challenging project: the ‘library’ had to encourage and entice young children to read; recycled materials had to be used; students had to donate some books to supplement those provided by READ; and finally they had to place them judiciously within their communities.

One of the libraries that really stood out was created by Selebaleng Mangole who made it into the shape of a teddy bear! “Because teddy bears are warm and cuddly,” she stated, “children relate to them and are naturally attracted to them.” She used recycled material from a carpenter who helped her to cut out the teddy bear shape. The front of the bear has a painted bookshelf for instant identification. Open the doors of this library and you’ll find two shelves filled with books – one marked ‘IN’, the other ‘OUT’ to promote the concept of taking a book and returning another (or the same).

A third year foundation student, Selebaleng has a daughter who helped her create her free library, which she’d like placed in her community – possibly in Tsholetsega Public School, in Kagiso, which is a less fortunate school. Having taught her daughter to read and write, Selebaleng believes there’s nothing more fulfilling than seeing how confident and excited children get when they learn these skills. “It’s amazing to see how this changes their world,” she enthused.

“A total of 160 libraries were created,” said Lizelle Langford, PR & fund-raising manager for READ. “Each showed hard work, effort, and initiative. The enthusiasm and passion they have for children and teaching was obvious,” she continued. “Two attributes of utmost importance since these young men and women are our next generation of educators.”

Charmaine du Plessis

 

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