The money spent on Cape Town's soccer World Cup stadium would have paid for 9 000 school libraries, NGO Equal Education (EE) said on Thursday.
EE, which is running a campaign to provide schools with libraries, said it recognised that the Western Cape education department had to make hard choices.
It also said it did not claim that school libraries should take precedence over creating new schools or new teaching posts.
"The real choice, however, is between building a R4.5 billion stadium in Greenpoint rather than 9000 new school libraries," it said in a statement.
"The real choice is to shift resources from back-office operations to frontline services."
EE said provincial education minister Donald Grant's recent claim that up to 60 percent of Western Cape schools had libraries, appeared to be false.
According to the newest comprehensive national government report on educational infrastructure, only 53 percent of Western Cape schools had a library space.
And only half of those libraries were actually stocked. - Sapa