There is no doubt that COVID-19 has had a detrimental impact on young peoples’ academic and social development. With the third wave hitting the country, public schools were forced to close from 30 June 2021. With unplanned school closures during virus spikes and many students left with little to no proper learning mechanisms – in order to avoid a ‘pandemic generation’, we should not forget the power of libraries.

 School libraries provide the tools and a place where students feel safe and encouraged to grow and learn. This is the very reason why South Africa’s leading print manufacturer, Novus Holdings, once again partnered with Breadline Africa in order to provide Mkhanyiseli Primary School in Nyanga, Western Cape with a library resource.

Access to books for academic purposes is critical for learners in South Africa. The reality is that we cannot risk intensifying the literacy challenges we already face within the country, and it is therefore essential to ensure that books are made easily available to children so that we can continue to build a reading nation.

Providing a hub of learning

As enrolment numbers continue to increase at Mkhanyiseli Primary, the need for learning spaces is becoming essential. Each classroom has a book corner with only a few books. There was great need to have a stocked and functional library on site that more than 1,000 leaners could access.

Plans were set in motion for Novus Holdings and Breadline Africa to install a 30m² prefabricated library at the school. To celebrate the launch of the new library, a virtual ceremony was held on Thursday, 20 May 2021 which was attended by the school principal Mrs Klaas, members of the school’s governing body, as well as representatives of Breadline Africa and Novus Holdings. Attendees were treated to a musical performance by the school choir, as well as a poem, which was read by a learner.

The new library has more than 800 age-appropriate books, and aims to benefit not only learners at Mkhanyiseli Primary, but children throughout the Nyanga community.

In her address to attendees, Carrie Nixon, Corporate Communications Manager at Novus Holdings, shared her appreciation to all parties that helped bring the project to fruition. “We hope that this library will be a safe space for learners of Mkhanyiseli to read, imagine and express their creativity, and that the books will inspire the children to make a greater contribution to society.”

“We believe that that school libraries are fundamental resources that feed reading and storytelling, which are all essential and, most importantly, safe components in keeping children engaged whether they are in the classroom or at home,” says Nixon.

The project formed part of Novus Holdings’ Future Foundations initiative, which sees the company invests in projects that aim to truly empower beneficiaries and to inspire others to positively transform communities.