THE colourful walls invite you in, the bookshelves hold the promise of worlds of wonder, and unlocking all these books for eager young minds in Zwide are previously unemployed graduates from the community.
A new joint library and literacy project at Isaac Booi Primary School is a beacon of hope for both the children who receive daily reading lessons in the cosy library, as well as local young graduates who are employed there.
The Literacy and Library Centre is a partnership between two Port Elizabeth-based charity organisations, Masinyusane and United Through Sport.
“We are proud to report that the project is off to an excellent start. We have successfully hired and trained five local, previously unemployed youth. We received nearly 100 applications and are thrilled with the passion, energy and commitment of this first group of Youth Leaders,” said Masinyusane’s Executive Director Jim McKeown.
The Youth Leaders began literacy sessions with foundation phase children from Isaac Booi Primary School in April, after receiving training in using the Wordworks literacy methodology. “Each one of these Youth Leaders lives within walking distance of Isaac Booi. This was intentional, as one of the project goals is to hire talent from the community surrounding the school and to empower them. The jobs provide more than just an income to these youth. They gain work experience, develop professional skills, are put in a leadership position in which they’re helping uplift children from their own neighbourhoods and create a sense of purpose and meaning,” said McKeown.
With classrooms in township schools traditionally having more than 40 learners per class, the literacy sessions provided by the Youth Leaders give the Grade R and Grade 1 learners much needed one-on-one attention.
“This programme will enhance and instil a culture of learning to the learners at tender ages of 6 and 7 years old and also, it will improve their level of confidence. As a school we are looking forward in strengthening our relationship with Jim and Nick respectively who have made this programme a success,” said Isaac Booi Headmaster Ludwe Memese.
This term the partnership will extend to girls from neighbouring schools who form part of United Through Sport’s Junior School of Excellence Programme. “Two of the Youth Leaders will assist with the roll-out of GirlsUnite, an empowerment programme for girls aged 10 to 13 years old, at Isaac Booi. The afterschool programme is focussed on empowering senior primary girls, with various workshops and literacy sessions that will take place at the Isaac Booi Library and Literacy Centre,” said United Through Sport Director Nick Mould.
It is a future goal of the project to expand and include more library initiatives for children of all ages from the local community in order to create and encourage a culture of reading.
“We are very excited about the project and look forward to working together to grow, expand and help more children. Together, we are providing these children with the academic foundation they need to unlock their potential and succeed in future school years,” said Mould.