In line with World Literacy Day, which was declared by UNESCO in 1966, the Rhodes Law Society embarked on a book drive in partnership with Duna Public Library in Grahamstown East.
World Literacy Day was celebrated for the first time on 8 September 1967 with the aim of highlighting the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. Celebrations take place in several countries annually.
The Law Society initiative aspires to collect books of all genres, including academic textbooks, fiction and nonfiction novels for donation to Duna. The increasingly high cost of books maintains the status quo by providing only a privileged minority with opportunities to develop their skills in reading, communication and language.
Since the launch of the Law Society initiative on 21 August 2018, over 50 books have been collected.
Against the backdrop of the country’s reading crisis, South Africa ranked last out of 50 countries in the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRLS) study which tested reading comprehension of learners in their fourth year of primary schooling.
The study found that 78% of South African pupils at this level of schooling could not read for meaning. One can therefore safely assume that, unless this crisis is addressed through access to resources and language development, it will perpetuate well into their secondary schooling.
Strategies such as this book drive and creating strategic partnerships in our communities help promote a culture of reading by encouraging the youth to read and parents to read to their children. By making books more accessible, general literacy and language skills can be significantly improved.
The book drive will officially run until Swot Week in October, but the Society says they hope to sustain it until early next year. They further plan to create a sustainable relationship with the library, which will extend beyond the book drive. “Given the infrastructure at Duna, we would like to take our involvement with the library to the next level and assist with maintaining some of the structural and aesthetic features of the library. The next initiative we would like to undergo is the planting of trees outside the library and are currently in discussion with their administration,” said Sethu Khumalo, Law Society Social Awareness Officer.
He added, “We believe that law society can assist our surrounding community to overcome the literacy barrier by providing access to books to our local community. We feel this initiative is particularly suited to the Law Society as language and literacy are the tools of a lawyer’s trade.”
Donations from individuals and groups are warmly welcomed. Drop off points are at the main University Library and the Law Library.
Source Rhodes University