September is recognised as literacy month and aims to advocate literacy as a basic human right and the foundation for all learning. 80% of schools in South Africa, do not have a functional library or access to books. Committed to supporting the development of literacy with our youth, Breadline Africa has provided 147 libraries in primary schools in low-income communities across the country, positively impacting the lives of 97,136 children.
A space where children can enjoy a good book and develop a love for reading has a long-lasting impact on their education. Research has shown that children who develop the ability to read for pleasure at an early age perform better with all school subjects, including mathematics.
“Our goal is to help children do better in school, with literacy development being one of our key focus areas,” says Marion Wagner, Breadline Africa Director. “To help children develop their literacy, we put our focus on improving the quality of infrastructure to create an environment that is conducive to develop a love for reading.”
Breadline Africa is an NPO that focuses on projects and infrastructure to support pre- and primary schools in under-resourced communities. They are now the biggest supplier of shipping containers converted into safe and secure classrooms, toilets, kitchens and libraries. The decision to use shipping containers and prefabricated units, allows Breadline Africa to provide educational infrastructure units within four to six weeks.
“Very often, many of the structures that we replace are unsafe, cramped, and are leaking. By replacing and supplementing these units, children enjoy coming to school and can purely focus on their books instead of the leaking roof and their next meal,” says Wagner.
“We have focussed on pre- and primary schools knowing that the early years of a child’s life is crucial for brain and social development,” says Wagner. “Addressing literacy at an early age is key to open up more and better opportunities for an individual as they progress through an education system.”
The libraries provided by Breadline Africa are well equipped with age-appropriate storybooks available in all local languages. A well-equipped library gives children the best opportunity to learn about local cultures; this broadens the mind and is a great foundation to develop a love for reading.
“A literate nation is a more employable nation,” says Wagner. “Research has indicated that if a child remains illiterate by the age of 9 years, there is a strong correlation of them remaining functionally illiterate and likely to drop out of school. This makes our work critically important; safe classrooms and quality libraries will give children the best foundation to develop their literacy and stay enrolled throughout their schooling and go on to become more employment ready.”
To find out more about Breadline Africa and its work, visit breadlineafrica.org