Mandelwa Libali encourages reading

Children in primary school still have challenges reading story books whether they are written in their mother tongue or English. This has prompted a non-governmental organisation called Mandelwa Libali Project to make a commitment to tackling this problem facing primary school children in the Eastern Cape.

Last month, more than 18 schools in Gqeberha, Makhanda, East London, Butterworth, Mthatha and Mount Frere were visited by Mandelwa Libali, giving children the opportunity to read story books in isiXhosa and English in public to get used to reading.

The Mandelwa Libali Project Manager, Pumeza Macingwane, says that the main purpose for doing this is to encourage children to read books and get used to reading books. She says that results from research conducted revealed that children in Grade 4 are still struggling to read properly.

“We want the children to get used to reading and to love reading, we want books to be something they liken to some of their toys. We were also children who grew up being told fairytales or read books by our grandmothers, this kept us connected at home all the time. That is why we believe that this creates relationships among children and between children and adults,” said Macingwane.

She says that many schools in the Eastern Cape do not have libraries, and those that do have no books inside. She says what they do is give the children books to take home. The books stay with them, so they get used to them. The child can read the book in their spare time and read out loud.

She says that the children in the schools they visited had difficulty reading, but they enjoyed the visit and showed interest.

She says that the challenge they have faced that worries them is that some of the teachers at the schools they visited were busy on their phones while the children were reading books. The teachers did not show interest in what they were doing.

Mandelwa Libali Project also visited two centres that keep children who are victims of abuse in Butterworth and Gqeberha. She says the aim was to show them that they are still loved and cared for even though they do not have parents.

She went on to say that what they are fighting for as a project is cases whereby the youth find other ways to occupy themselves and end up making wrong decisions.

Macingwane says that they give precedence to schools or a person who need programs like the book club in their area. They can contact them so they can help them with reading books.

She says that towns or cities are where you get access to such privileges in the Eastern Cape. There are no places to get access to books like the library in the villages, so they call on all those who need help starting a book club.

On Tuesday this week, the Eastern Cape MEC for Education, Fundile Gade was at the ICC in East London, where reading culture in schools was encouraged. The theme was, “EC Reading Strategy.”