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For the love of reading


When I was a youngster, I remember my school principal’s comments written in my school reports, “Louise needs to read more.” Decades later, this sage advice still rings true for any child today. However, it’s difficult to encourage a love for reading in children if they have no books in their home and if there’re no books on hand in their school classroom.

And it’s these core problems that Read to Rise, a programme advocating youth literacy, aims to address. Started in 2013 by Athol Williams and Taryn Lock, the organisation is based in the Western Cape and operates predominantly in the Grade 2 and Grade 3 classes of primary schools in Mitchells Plain, Western Cape. (Recently the organization has successfully expanded it’s operations into Gauteng, mainly around Soweto, Muldersdrift, Centurion and Thokaza).

This goal fits well with the Old Mutual Foundation portfolio to support vulnerable communities, and during 2014 and 2015 the Foundation funded over R225 000 for the purpose of purchasing and distributing mini-libraries consisting of 50 new, government-approved books in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa. Over and above this, each child receives their very own copy of “Oaky and the Sun“, a book written by Athol Williams. For most of these children it’s the first time they’ve ever owned a book.

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Read to Rise has worked hard to establish trusted relationships in almost 50 primary schools in the area, and today we’re visiting a school where ‘Oaky’ books and Old Mutual stationery packs are about to be distributed to the Grade 3’s. Clive, who mans the main school gate, hears that I’m visiting from Old Mutual and leans in close to me enquiring, “Can’t you organise me one of those Mutual calendars, man? After regrettably disappointing Clive, we make our way into class. There are 43 young children neatly seated, eager faces watching us curiously. Programme Manager Roscoe Williams, brother of Athol, is clearly passionate about this work and when the children spot him they wave and chorus, “Hello Roscoe,” a testimony to the presence Read To Rise has in these schools.

Mr A, the school principal is a stocky business-like man who, although seeming slightly harassed, accommodates us warmly in his school. He teaches a class from 9-10am and we’re only able to interview him afterwards. He speaks in strong Afrikaans, saying he grew up in an area where you only ever spoke English if you were desperate! About Read to Rise, he has nothing but praise, remarking the children love having their own glossy, colourful book (a far cry for the poorly photocopied readers handed out at schools), and already he and his staff can notice an improvement in the children’s literacy. It’s this kind of feedback – and the bright delight on the children’s faces – that assures me this was definitely a good investment for our future.

 

 

Post index:

And we’re off!
Growing green futures
For the love of reading
Paying it forward
In the heat of the moment
The road to Camdeboo
The light of one small candle
Investing for the future
The building blocks of business
A heart for horses
Mining for talent
My ability is greater than my disability
To be a nurse, you must be love
There’s no such thing as ‘the voiceless’
Mark my words
The place where the sun rises
Welcome to your future
Strengthening families 

7 Responses to For the love of reading

  1. Taryn says:

    What a wonderful write-up! Thank you Louise and the Old Mutual Foundation for all that you have done for READ to RISE and the young learners at our schools! Your investment in literacy is greatly appreciated!

  2. Wow Louise Jones this is a beautiful write-up, thank you! And thank you for being such a great support of our work over the years – it has kept us going. It is profound that such a simple investment in a new book can have the enormous impact on a child’s confidence and development that we are beginning to see – this vindicates the belief that the entire Read to Rise team held at the start and Old Mutual shared that belief with us. I agree, Old Mutual’s investment has definitely been a good one. Thank you also to Renee Palmer and Benji Norman. Thank you!!

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  5. Keep on writing, great job!

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