The sixth library sponsored and equipped by Hyundai Automotive South Africa (HASA) in cooperation with the Imperial and Ukhamba Community Development Trust was handed over to Heerengracht Primary School in Eldorado Park on Mandela Day.
The festive handover ceremony in front of the school’s 900 learners on Wednesday 18 July was a fitting celebration of the birthday of Nelson Mandela, first president of South Africa after its transformation to a democracy. Mr Mandela, who passed away in 2013, would have been 100 years old last week.
Madiba was a passionate proponent of personal enrichment and learning through reading and the example that he set by studying during his incarceration on Robben Island has often been used as an encouragement for the young learners of the schools which benefit from HASA’s corporate social investment programme.
Mr Enver Surty, Deputy-minister of Basic Education, who unveiled the plaque at the library entrance with Mr Niall Lynch, CEO of Hyundai Automotive SA, said in his keynote address that Mr Mandela called our children “our national asset”, and they hold the future of the country in their hands. The library that is opened at the school reflects the technological advancements that the Department of Education embraces, said Surty.
HASA’s first library handover as part of its corporate social investment initiative was at the Southview High School in Lenasia, and after that followed libraries at several other schools in communities in the south of Johannesburg where such a facility was needed to establish islands of excellence to prepare learners who can become future leaders and successful citizens who can play a meaningful role in our society.
The libraries established by HASA and the Imperial and Ukhamba Community Development Trust are fully staffed and managed by the Trust to ensure that the programmes introduced for the benefit of learners achieve the desired results. While literacy levels remain poor at most South African government schools, it has shown a marked improvement at Hyundai and Imperial Ukhamba partner schools.
The nature and content of programmes being conducted through the libraries have increased year on year and now include a reading programme for grade one to four learners, book clubs, spelling tests, “Mathletics”, which allows learners to log into the Mathletics company server and work through mathematical concepts up to mastery for the relevant stage of development, and Saturday and holiday programmes.
The library serves as a place where learners can study or complete projects in a comfortable environment. Learners waiting for their transport at the end of the day use the library as a place to occupy themselves safely until their transport arrives to take them home.
The library assistants – many of whom have been unemployed for a number of years – are still recruited from communities surrounding the schools. Before library assistants are employed they undergo a rigorous reading and writing skills test to ensure they will cope with the demands of the work. Once appointed, they are given in service training on how to teach reading to little children. They also attend a computer training and first aid course.
Stanley Anderson, sales and operations director of Hyundai Automotive SA, Oscar Makola, marketing director, and Niall Lynch, CEO of HASA, in the impressive, brand new library of the Heerengracht Primary School
The school choir of Heerengracht Primary School sings at the handover of their new library which is sponsored by Hyundai Automotive SA and the Imperial and Ukhamba Community Development Trust