On 23 April, countries across the globe will celebrate World Book and Copyright Day. It is a symbolic date celebrating the many renowned writers in history, including William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. For this reason, UNESCO's General Conference decided it is a fitting day on which to celebrate the magic of literature and the joy of reading. Literacy is a powerful resource in the face of poverty and disempowerment, and access to quality books opens countless doors for learning and growth. Since our establishment, we at AVBOB have been deeply committed to the various communities we serve, and we recognise the need for improved literacy levels in South Africa. We have, therefore, partnered with Oxford University Press Southern Africa to launch a new initiative, Road to Literacy. This is a library trolley campaign that enables the public to assist in nominating deserving schools that can benefit from a donation of new reading material.
In 2016, the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), released a report of a 10-year study on reading and literacy levels among Grade 4 and 5 students. Out of 50 participating countries in the study, South Africa placed last in literacy when compared to its global peers. The study also found that more than half of South African primary schools sorely require books, libraries, and infrastructure that supports gaining skills in reading and literacy. From the report, it is clear that the country is facing a literacy crisis and addressing the issue entails reigniting a passion for reading. Our library trolley campaign, which will coincide with World Book and Copyright Day, is an initiative that invites social media users and radio listeners to make a difference in the lives of scholars in their community. It is a competition in which the public can nominate qualifying schools to receive a library trolley compiled by AVBOB industries. This library trolley will be stocked with 400 books donated by Oxford University Press which will greatly assist resource-challenged schools and non-profit organisations. These institutions must cater to foundation and intermediate school phases, between Grade R to Grade 7.
The Oxford University Press is the country’s leading literacy publisher and has donated 7 million rand’s worth of books to the AVBOB Foundation in 2020. In its partnership, both organisations have come together to create the Road to Literacy initiative which gives the public the chance to be participants in the campaign. Thus far, we at AVBOB have already donated 57 container libraries for schools, along with our investment of R135 million in the upgrade of local schools in rural areas. Since its inception in 2012, the AVBOB Foundation has taken great pride in its commitment to the needs of communities across Mzansi, placing great priority on development initiatives that truly make a difference.
Once launched, the library trolley campaign will give social media users the chance to nominate underprivileged schools, and 180 winners will then be chosen by AVBOB and the Oxford University Press. To find out more about our social development projects, and further details on how to nominate a school near you, be sure to keep an eye on AVBOB’s website and social media platforms.