Update 2017/Thank You to Our Donors: For the past couple of weeks, SheWinS has been distributing books to our three public libraries in the Memel/Zamani community. We now have 3 libraries: one in the Memel Primary School (our first library) which now contains over 3000 books, one at the Memel Public School which contains upwards of 800 books, and the last in the Zamani Secondary school which also contains around 800 books. We are constantly searching and gathering new books to ensure that each student will ultimately have access to at least one book at a given time.
That being said, our numbers have already exceeded expectations, which is something that we want to thank all of our donors for. Every contribution we have received adds to a growing world of opportunity, learning, imagination and creativity for the children of Memel and Zamani.
We first shared some of the new library books with the children of Memel Public School on Thursday, February 2nd. Our head librarian spent countless hours sorting through the various books, in order to appropriately distribute them among the 3 different schools. The books for Memel Public School were then laid out over bookshelves and tabletops. We slowly brought the students into the library, classroom by classroom, to pique their interest and give them the opportunity to look at all of the different books. At first they entered the space rather timidly, unsure as to whether all of these books were actually for them or even whether it was okay to touch and pick them up. With just a few words of encouragement, they quickly spread throughout the room, their eyes darting each and every way trying to decide where to start. Some flipped pages hurriedly, anxious to take in as many of the illustrations as possible in the time that was given to them. Others turned the pages ever-so-slowly, their lips moving silently as they worked to form the words; their eyes progressively growing larger, hungrily absorbing each and every detail. Faces would break into limitless grins as they suddenly recognized a book or character and their friends gathered around to share in the thrilling discovery.
Not only do these library books afford children the opportunity to immerse themselves in new and exciting worlds, but they also serve as invaluable resources to enhance the reading competency and learning potential of children who are fighting against insurmountable barriers in their day-to-day lives. We can’t possibly thank our donors enough for the contribution they have made to this life-changing project. With generosity and consideration from enough individuals, we can gradually make those impediments a little less overwhelming.
The Memel Primary School library project was begun a few years ago, in collaboration with SheWinS, to aid the school in its educational mission and inspire a lifelong love of reading in the students. One of a kind, this is the largest library found in any Public School in the Free State. All the books are provided by donations from the Rotary Club in Johannesburg and private donors. The books are organized by reading level (beginning, intermediate, and advanced). Specialized subjects such as Science, Biographies, Poetry, etc. are also provided. Traditional and relevant children’s books include a selection of books written in Zulu and topics of South African history. Students are permitted to check-out one book at a time, with the most popular ones being princess, superhero, or Disney-themed.
The library is open two days a week, during the mid-day break, and after school. Books are checked out by using a modified check-out method: the child’s name, and date. A recent survey shows teachers have noticed a positive impact in the reading behavior in the student body. The children have become more engaged and excited for library days and there is noticeable improvement in the spoken and written English by 3rd grade.
“Well, working in the library is such a nice job. When I started working at the library, it seemed pupils didn’t know how to use it. Some didn’t even have interest in coming to take out books. We had a little bit of novels but now we have more than enough. Cindy is always donating books to the school, so because of her, our library is full of good story books.
We have all languages in our library. I trained last year and this years’ grade 3 how to take out a book, how to concentrate when reading so that he/she will understand the story after finishing the reading. Their teachers will ask each and every child what is in the story book he/she took out.
So every Wednesday and Thursday every child now enjoys coming to the library.
They now know it’s good for their education. Wednesday and Thursday I usually sign out over a hundred books. So this means Wednesday 70 pupils come into the library and Thursday 50 or more! The way I see these children they have improved a lot, they now show a lot of interest in reading.”
-Nyarayi, Head Volunteer Librarian, Memel Primary School
“According to the Department of Education, all schools in South Africa must adopt the policy, “Drop all and read” in Primary Schools. The objectives are to improve the reading abilities of learners in Public Schools.
During 2015 Memel Primary School also adopted this policy. At the end of a school day, 14:00, all learners then “drop all” and read a book of their choice. Our library plays a vital role in that regard. Learners get a chance to take a book from the library to read during this allocated time.
Wednesday is also a special day in the grade 3 class. After first break, learners get the opportunity to select a book from the library. Children can’t wait for Wednesdays! They read for enjoyment but also do book reviews, that are introduced in the grade 3 curriculum.
I am sure this will foster a longterm relationship with books for them! We are so fortunate to have a functional library at school.”
-Stefanie, Teacher, Memel Primary School
We are happy to announce, in 2017, SheWinS will be opening a second library, located at Zamani’s Secondary School for grades 8-12.
If you would like to know how you can help please contact Cindy Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org