Many pupils across the country, particularly in township schools, are still battling to read and write with understanding while others do not value the importance of reading books.
This emerged when Nal’ibali, a national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, held a story-telling and reading aloud session at Matthew Goniwe High School, in Khayelitsha, as part of observing World Book Day which is celebrated on April 23.
The organisation also donated books to the value of R250 000 to all reading clubs and libraries they have partnerships with across the country.
Through the donations, they aim to provide free access to good quality stories in English and home languages, and it hopes to celebrate the work of its partners by helping them to create a print rich environment.
The organisation strives to urge young people to start reading books to improve their vocabulary and sharpen their reading skills. The core message delivered on the day was that reading enabled them to make informed decisions and express themselves better.
Thanduxolo Mkoyi, co-ordinator at Nal’ibali, said reading helped people to be better leaders and avoid falling prey to drugs and gangsterism.
He described the lack of libraries in schools as one of the key contributors to pupils not reading.
Mr Mkoyi firmly believes that the only way to solve the country’s illiteracy crisis, is to ensure that schools have libraries and resources. He also used the opportunity to appeal to parents to buy books for their children because the harsh reality was that many pupils came from environments where reading was not encouraged or considered to be important.
“We know that some of our parents are not educated, hence we are providing a platform for the youth to hone their reading skills.
“We want to create a reading nation and we want to ignite a reading passion among them. We want to inculcate a culture of reading for enjoyment while improving their reading ability,” he concluded.
Mzuvukile Mngombe, the school’s acting principal, said he was grateful for the donations of books and for conducting the session. However, he felt that government was not doing enough to assist schools in ensuring that their libraries were effective.
He explained that the library needed the full support of the provincial Department of Basic Education and highlighted that the only reason their library doors were still open is because of the partnerships they have with some non-governmental organisations.
He said reading helped pupils to improve their analytical thinking and judgement.
Mr Mngombe said it was crucial to form partnerships with organisations which were assisting them to mould and shape the future of today’s children. “Our pupils are reading simply for the sake of reading and they do not understand the context of what they are reading. We need to equip them with skills to be able to read with understanding,” he said.