This is the 33rd school library that The Bookery and Equal Education have built together in the past four years as part of a campaign to ensure every school in South Africa has a functioning library. This is the first school library Equal Education has donated in Gauteng.
In South Africa, nearly 92% of public schools do not have functional libraries. Those that do have libraries are almost entirely former model C schools, which have the resources to stock and staff these facilities. Approximately 20,000 schools are without libraries, thereby denying their learners access to regular reading materials.
The Bookery is an organisation started by Equal Education in 2010 after the 2009 national campaign for school libraries. This campaign wanted to ensure every school had a functioning library. EE decided it wasn't enough to just advocate for libraries but it was important to show government that with enough efforts, libraries in schools could be built and this has been a huge success. The Bookery is currently based in Cape Town and its core mandate is to build libraries in schools.
Equal Education Gauteng and The Bookery have worked together since last year to open the library at Thuto Ke Matla Secondary School. Students and teachers from the school have also been highly involved in coordinating the effort. Students at the school have volunteered to serve as library monitors to encourage their classmates to read and use the library responsibly. Teachers have committed to developing assignments that will bring students into the new library space. Equal Education and The Bookery have stocked the library with thousands of books as well as a computer and an accompanying digital library management system. In addition, Equal Education student-members and supporters have been working for weeks at the school to clean the library and shelve the books.
Each library that has been established contains a minimum of three books per learner per school, and caters for the needs and interests of its readership through a comprehensive selection of fiction, non-fiction and reference works. With over 1600 students, Thuto-Ke-Maatla now has a diverse collection of non-fiction books including Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom as well as fiction books including the complete Harry Potter series and a collection of graphic novels.
Equal Education is excited for the learners to start making full use of this library; in all the libraries EE has opened, it has been great to see learners and teachers keen to use the facilities. The presence of a library in schools automatically encourages more reading outside of prescribed school books, it helps create reading enthusiasts and it will provide a conducive environment for learners to engage with their school work.
For more information contact
Adam Bradlow, Equal Education Gauteng Co-Head
Tracey Malawana, Equal Education Youth Organizer