As World Book Day nears on 23 April, private higher education institution MANCOSA has renewed its pledge to donate a million books to promote the enjoyment of reading among children, especially in poor communities.
Professor Magnate Ntombela, newly appointed as principal of MANCOSA following the untimely passing of philanthropist and eminent educationist, Professor Yusuf Karodia, said he would promote the “Million Books Campaign” initiated by his predecessor with even greater zeal and determination.
Professor Karodia, founder of MANCOSA, was a strong believer that reading is an essential ingredient for children to improve their literacy, further their education and to brighten their future.
Through the Yusuf Karodia Foundation, he launched the “Million Books Project” which aims to provide more than a million books to school children across South Africa through mobile libraries.
“Research has shown that access to libraries improves learner performance and increases their chances of success. A literate educated society is a safer, healthier, and more prosperous society. Sadly, hundreds of schools lack libraries,” said Professor Karodia.
Each year, on 23 April, celebrations take place all over the world to recognise the magical power of books – a link between the past and the future; a bridge between generations and across cultures. On this day, books are celebrated as a most beautiful invention for sharing ideas beyond the boundaries of humanity, space, and time, and as one of the most powerful forces of poverty-eradication and peace building.
Professor Ntombela said World Book Day changes lives through a love of books and shared reading.
“Our mission at MANCOSA is to promote reading for pleasure as this is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income.
“We want to see more children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, develop a life-long habit of reading for pleasure and the improved life chances this brings them. Reading develops critical thinking, deepens imagination, and promotes intrigue and enquiry.
“It was Professor Karodia’s vision to leave a lasting legacy in our country and what better way to do this than by providing books to the poorest in our communities.”
Library books are luxury items in most rural areas and only 20% of township schools have proper libraries. Hence, the “Million Books Project” will go a long way to redressing the inequalities of the past.
Since its inception in February 2018, the MANCOSA “reading revolution” has touched more than two million pupils in 55 schools across the country. To date 47 700 books have been donated in 167 mobile libraries.
“We are still very much in the initial stages of the project and we expect to scale up this campaign.
“Reading is known to play a positive and pivotal role in the cognitive development of young children and improves their vocabulary. It also helps them to imagine a world that is bigger and often more stimulating than their surroundings that are marked by overcrowded and under-resourced schools,” said Professor Ntombela, adding other corporates were welcome to join MANCOSA in the campaign.
Khulekani Mthiyane, principal of Brooklyn Heights Primary School which received a mobile library from MANCOSA said: “Having our school chosen as a recipient is a dream come true. There is no future if basic reading skills are not honed.”
Sbongile Mbatha, a former head girl at the school said: “Reading is one of my favourite pastimes. The generous donation from MANCOSA has helped our school pupils to learn more.”
Mahlatse Moduba, a pupil at Ayanda Primary School in Tshwane said: “On behalf of all learners and educators, we wish to extend our gratitude to MANCOSA for the donation of three mobile libraries. This will make a huge difference in improving reading skills and expanding pupils’ vocabulary.”