There was an air of celebration at Gateway Primary School on 1 March 2018, when the school received a brand new library, thanks to the generosity of Mrs Jacky Leather, a UK-based donor, who was represented by Mrs Sheila Pacak at the opening event. Mrs Leather gave this generous gift in memory of her late father.
Gateway Primary School is located in Delft in the Western Cape. The school was established in 2012 as a temporary measure, in response to an increasingly growing number of school-going children in the area. Today, 1 602 children are enrolled at the school and are taught in temporary prefabricated buildings located on a sandy strip of land while they wait for a permanent campus to be built.
The school had no dedicated space to house books and also no available space from which volunteer literacy tutors could provide valuable one-on-one reading support to the children. The provision of a container library is aimed at addressing both of these challenges. Gateway Primary School was nominated for support by SHINE Literacy. Since April 2017, SHINE Literacy has been piloting a programme called Khanyisa (ignite/spark in isiXhosa). Partnering with Action Volunteers Africa (AVA) and the Western Cape Education Department’s 1000 School’s Project, 90 unemployed school leavers have been recruited and trained in the SHINE Literacy Development methodology and have been placed in Grade Two classrooms at schools where they will exclusively be used as SHINE Reading Partners.
The Reading Partner ensures that every day, each child has at least a five-minute individual paired reading session, during which they will read a minimum of one isiXhosa/Afrikaans and one English book. Additionally, the Reading Partner will read a story to the whole class at least once a day. Reading for pleasure is widely acknowledged as the missing ingredient in literacy development with research showing that self-selected reading for pleasure results in a profound growth in nearly all aspects of literacy, including reading ability, vocabulary and grammar, writing style and spelling.
The principal, staff and children of Gateway Primary School expressed their gratitude to Mrs Leather and Breadline Africa for their beautiful library – something that will be well-used by the school!