Read the word, read the world
Learners at Meadowlands Primary School in Soweto have grown accustomed to sharing a few worn-out books among each class, many of which had to be collected from the community library in Zone 3, some distance away.
But thanks to the generosity of an entire nation, which rallied to support the Pick n Pay Mandela Day Container Libraries book drive, learners at the school now have dozens of new books and their very own library to store them in.
From 1 to 17 July, South Africans answered Nelson Mandela’s call to “take action and inspire change” by donating thousands of books at drop-off points in Pick n Pay branches countrywide. The impressive collection was then handed over to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, which is distributing them to disadvantaged schools throughout South Africa, including Meadowlands Primary.
The container libraries are linked to the Department of Education’s 94+ Schools Infrastructure Project, and Grandmark International kindly donated the container library that now stands as a proud centrepiece in the Meadowlands Primary school grounds.
Speaking at the handover on Thursday, Mandela Day project coordinator Frank Meintjies made sure that journalists, business leaders and other guests knew just how important this donation of books has been for learners at the school. His wise words were repeated with gusto: “Readers make leaders, and those who read, lead!”
“This was a very important Mandela Day project, as it allowed members of the public to easily get involved and make a big difference. And there is no greater cause to support than the educational development of our future generations,” said Meintjies.
The principal of Meadowlands Primary School, Mrs Florina Tshikane, was deeply grateful for the donation.
“The children were so excited when the container library got here this morning; it was hard to control them as they watched the delivery,” she recalled with a smile.
“These books will make a big difference in their lives. There was a massive shortage before, and now entire classes will be able read at the same time instead of taking turns to share what little we had.”
Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory spokesperson Sello Hatang said he was encouraged by the number of books collected.
“I can already visualise full container libraries, and young South African minds absorbing all that knowledge. I cannot thank Pick n Pay enough for driving such a successful initiative.”
In showing their gratitude, young learners at the school sang and danced at the end of the handover proceedings.
One learner stepped forward while his classmates quietly sang around him, and proudly said, “Now we have more space in which to learn, and we are very grateful. Thank you. Siyabonga. Baie dankie!”