BY: Mpofu Sthandile.

Access to books and reading for meaning are critical for children to acquire foundational literacy and progress through school. AVBOB, Oxford University Press Southern Africa (OUP) and government mark the second year of the AVBOB Road To Literacy trolley library campaign, a tripartite partnership aimed at stimulating and promoting a passion for books and reading.

CEO ofAVBOB, Carl van der Riet together with Hanri Pieterse, Managing Director of OUP, announced the 260 beneficiaries of the AVBOB Road To Literacy campaign on Thursday, 15 June 2023. The announcement of the beneficiaries took place at an event held in Auckland Park at the SABC M1 Auditorium, where Angie Motshekga, Minister for Basic Education, was the keynote speaker.

“Adjudicators had a tough task sifting through the more than 8 000 nominations submitted by South Africans throughout the country to determine the final and deserving beneficiaries of the 2023 campaign,” shared van der Riet.

The national AVBOBRoad To Literacy campaign, aimed at instilling a culture of reading and improving the numeracy skills of primary school children across the country, was launched on 01 March 2023. Each trolley will be delivered with 500 books, which is an increase from the 430 books of 2022. Each AVBOB Road To Literacy trolley library has a value of R50 000. The total investment value for the 2023 initiative is R13 million.

Commitment to support literacy

A recent global study in children’s reading ability put South Africa in the spotlight, when the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study ranked South Africa last out of the 57 countries assessed. In 2021, the study tested the reading ability of 400 000 students globally and showed that 81% of South African children could not read for comprehension in any of the country’s 11 official languages.

As part of AVBOB’s ongoing commitment to support literacy, van der Riet explained that the AVBOB Road To Literacy campaign with OUP and the government is a critical collaboration in response to a pervasive need in schools and society.

Van der Riet, in his address, also highlighted the need to work together in both the private and public sectors to address universal challenges for the betterment of communities and future generations. “AVBOB exists because of our members, and everything we do is for their benefit and for their communities. We do this by creating and sharing value through social investments like the Road To Literacy campaign.”

In her keynote address, Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga said, “this campaign is a crucial step in our journey to instil a culture of reading and enhance the numeracy skills of primary school children across our beloved country.”

“I am particularly delighted to share that this year’s campaign places special emphasis on reading resources in mother tongue languages. Extensive research has shown that teaching in a child’s mother tongue language reduces dropout rates and makes education more accessible and engaging.”

“Moreover, we recognise the critical importance of developing numeracy skills during a child’s formative years. Together, let us ignite a love for reading, strengthen numeracy skills, and empower our children to reach new heights of knowledge and achievement.”

Pieterse emphasised that the global university press, which publishes in more than 70 languages and in close to 200 countries globally, believes that partnerships with like-minded organisations are essential to realise its vision to positively impact the lives of millions of learners anytime, anywhere.

“Our collaboration with AVBOBis one such example where our shared value and mutual vision have strengthened our relationship and delivered the Road To Literacy campaign that drives this vision with a profound impact after only two consecutive years of running it,” said Pieterse.

Oxford University Press Southern Africa is South Africa’s leading literacy publisher.


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