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The Opening of Thembelihle Library

Being part of the opening of the Library at Thembelihle High School on Friday was one of the greatest privileges I have experienced. As members of this movement, we have set our sights on a task which often seems overwhelming. More than this, the depressed state of education in this country – and the politics we have to engage in to change it – attempts constantly to distract us from our task.

Being present at that library opening, I felt as though I was observing a hospital patient get up after a heart transplant. And that is precisely what a school library should be. Our education system in South Africa is a lot like the tin-man in search of a heart in the fairly-tale by L. Frank Baum, 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz'. That tin-man represents all that is soul-less and mechanical in the 'system' so many depend on for access to their basic right to education. Indeed it is a system that cannot pay attention to detail, cannot respond to the individual needs of learners. It is a system where matric learners can be examined on books they have never seen. It is a system that is in desperate need of a heart. A vibrant library is now the beating heart within Thembelihle High School.  

No matter what others may say, reading books will forever be the heart of education. Opening a book and slowly picking one's way through it can be hard labour even for the smartest among us. We must recognise this. But a safe, organised place to access and read books in public schools invites young people to actively change this by actively carrying more of the load that is their own education. The harder the work, the sweeter the prize.
Carla GoldsteinThe Opening of Thembelihle Library