Walt Disney once said that there is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island. It’s a sentiment African Bankers embrace as part of their ongoing continued commitment to improving English language skills in schools.
Kennedy Dembetembe, African Bank’s National CSI Manager, says the bank ran an internal book drive to collect books for three initiatives, which include the library revamp project at Ivory Park Secondary school and the Winnie Mandela Primary school; the Black bird literacy project - a CSI initiative that sees volunteers set up and run reading corners in township schools and finally the Tirogae Interactive Educational Projects – a CSI initiative that runs the Ekurhuleni Book fest and Ekurhuleni Mobile Library project.
The goal of the drive, which finished at the end of October, was to collect at least 1 000 books. Dembetembe says literacy in our country is a real problem. “In South Africa about 80 percent of children can’t read properly after four years of full-time schooling. It is thought by many that we should be devoting more time and resources to teaching our children to collaborate. Or think critically. Or to code. But they can’t read. In the future, they will need to know how to work with artificial intelligence. But they can’t read.”
Children who do not learn to read for meaning after three years of schooling are never going to learn these other skills or be employed in the 21st century. “Yes, children of the future will need more and different skills, but you cannot leap-frog literacy. That is why it is critical that we find ways of giving learners access to books,” says Nkululeko Malepa, who is a trainee developer at African Bank and the founder of Tirogae Interactive Educational Projects Malepa.
Dembetembe says in addition to the book collection, African Bank would also be hosting an interactive reading forum at the Bank which will give learners the opportunity to come to African Bank and interact with staff and share their common love for books and reading.