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THERE is hope for some underprivileged pupils in Limpopo in the face of crippling delays in the delivery of textbooks.
Yesterday, Molteno Institute for Language and Literacy launched its Community Literacy Project in the troubled province.
The launch was part of Molteno’s multimillion-rand project to roll out 160 library carts in villages across Limpopo, North West and Mpumalanga over several weeks.
In February, the organisation was forced to turn to the courts after the National Lottery refused to pay out the R20 million that it had granted for the project. Less than a week after Molteno filed its court papers, the National Lotteries Board agreed to honour its grant.
This paved the way for the rolling out of the 160 “Wheelie Wagons” mobile libraries in the three provinces.
The project also has the backing of the Department of Arts and Culture.
“All is well that ends well,” said Molteno CEO Masenya Dikotla, during the launch at Ithuseng Community Centre in Lenyenye, outside Tzaneen.
The centre is the brainchild of former University of Cape Town vice-chancellor Dr Mamphela Ramphele.
She was in attendance when the project was launched. Mamphela said SA’s high rate of illiteracy was “a sad commentary on its society’s tolerance for poverty and inequality”.
“No modern society should tolerate the existence of illiteracy on the scale we have it in this country.”
Each self-contained mobile library unit is packed with more than 400 books in a variety of genres, including story books, novels, reference materials, IT, cooking and health books. Some of the books are written in the local vernacular languages and some in English.
The books have been chosen for their appeal to the recreational reader, as well as for their educational value, in an attempt to increase the habit of reading.
The wagons will be placed in active community centres. The centres will be selected according to their proximity to people living 100km or more from the closest library.
They will be managed by volunteers who will be trained in the basics of library management.
It is hoped that the books will encourage young and old people to read across a broad range of subjects and improve their education.
“What excites me most is the prospect of children being encouraged to fall in love with the written word and imagine worlds they have never seen,” said Ramphele.