‘We need libraries at schools’

From left, Finance MEC Ivan Meyer; Gadija Sydow Noordien, school librarian at Seaview Primary School, and principal Erefaan Dollie.

Seaview Primary School principal Erefaan Dollie says the rest of Mitchell’s Plain, the province and the country should follow their example of having a school library to improve literacy at schools.

He was speaking a the third annual book club and literacy intervention certificate presentation ceremony at the school on Tuesday November 29.

“We need to be spending money on libraries at our schools. We want to be the example to the world,” he said.

Mr Dollie said it needed to happen soon to change the perception people have of South Africa.

In 2012, parent Gadija Sydow Noordien volunteered at the school, helping children to read during one-hour sessions with four pupils. This followed a call from Mr Dollie for parents to help the pupils read.

Two volunteers out of 600 parents had stepped forward – Ms Sydow Noordien and Toughieda Carey, who had grandchildren at the school.

Since then, Ms Sydow Noordien has established a book club, storytelling sessions, a poetry club, a spelling bee, a debating club and a choir with various facilitators, including Nal’ibali (Xhosa for “here’s the story”), a national reading-for-enjoyment campaign to spark children’s potential through storytelling and reading; and Read to Rise, a non-profit organisation committed to promoting youth literacy in schools in South Africa’s poorer communities.

“We want a library at every school,” she said, adding that they needed volunteers to help pupils read. She arrives at school early to allow pupils to spend time in the library before school starts.

During school hours, she helps pupils who teachers refer to her for help with their literacy and comprehension skills.

Ms Sydow Noordien said there was always something happening at school and that the library was often open after school.

Their library started with a single desk in a storeroom. Today it boasts two classrooms with walls lined with bookshelves.