A Story from South Africa
In January 2006, a dozen GLP volunteers visited the Carrol Shaw Center at the request of the Africa committee of Fountain Baptist Church (Summit, New Jersey). They wanted to give some two dozen children at the center an environment that was conducive for litreacy.
The GLP volunteers identified an abandoned barn next to the Center that could be converted to a space for a children's library.
After it was renovated, it was stocked with a small selection of new books for the children.
The GLP volunteers had also visited several local schools and identified that there was a need for books to expand the local school libraries.
Back in New Jersey, GLP reached out to local civic groups and worked for the next eight months collecting books to complete stocking the library. The Abundant Life Family Worship Church (under the leadership of Bishop George C. Searight and Pastor Mary Searight) in New Brunswick, New Jersey and the Old Bridge School District were critical in getting nearly 30,000 books to the GLP warehouse!
GLP volunteers also reached out for support towards raising the funds needed to ship the nearly 30,000 books.
The Old Bridge School District donated their Harcourt Brace Language Arts Literacy collection which had been in use throughout its 12 elementary schools.
The 20-foot container of books was shipped out at the end of October 2006 and arrived in South Africa in December, just in time for holiday giving!
Republic of South Africa
After the British seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1806, many of the Dutch settlers (the Boers) trekked north to found their own republics. The discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) spurred wealth and immigration and intensified the subjugation of the native inhabitants. The Boers resisted British encroachments but were defeated in the Boer War (1899-1902). The resulting Union of South Africa operated under a policy of apartheid - the separate development of the races. The 1990s brought an end to apartheid politically and ushered in black majority rule (CIA Factbook).
Illiteracy in South Africa-The Legacy of Apartheid
South Africa has 12.3-million learners, some 386,600 teachers and 26,292 schools, including 1,098 registered independent or private schools. Of all schools, roughly 6,000 are high schools (grade 7 to grade 12) and the rest primary (grade 0 to grade 6). However, there is a huge literacy problem left by 40 years of apartheid education. Under that system, white South African children received a quality schooling virtually for free, while their black counterparts had only "Bantu education." Education was viewed as a part of the overall apartheid system, which included the "homelands," urban restrictions, pass laws and job reservation. The role of black Africans was as labourers or servants only.
Illiteracy rates are high at around 24% of adults over 15 years old (6- to 8-million adults are not functionally literate), teachers in township schools are poorly trained, and the matric pass rate remains low. While 65% of whites over 20 years old and 40% of Indians have a high school or higher qualification, this figure is only 14% among blacks and 17% among the coloured population (Source: SouthAfrica.info).
So South Africa is in the midst of an education revolution, especially in its rual areas. Schools are being supported and new ones are being constructed all the time. But these schools lack books; in many there are no school libraries (Empty libraries close the book on reading), not even rudimentary collections for classroom use. And this is the typical story for practically the entire countryside where the Black majority of the population resides.
Global Literacy Project Sites (2006-2010)