US book ini­tia­tive boost for pupils

Go! & Express - - News - ETHIENNE ARENDS

AN AMER­I­CAN teacher has do­nated about 16000 books to schools around East Lon­don since 2009.

Joanne Guzzi started think­ing of help­ing un­der­priv­i­leged schools in the area after her first visit to East Lon­don and in par­tic­u­lar, schools in the area.

“In 2008 I came to learn about the legacy of apartheid when I vis­ited the coun­try. I went back to the US but could not forget what I had seen – the idea of one book in a class of 48 made me want to come and give back,” she said.

Last month the Good Sa­mar­i­tan brought along with her 2 600 books for the New Gen­er­a­tion Pri­mary School in Egoli Town­ship, as part of the Open Books Open Minds (OBOM) pro­gramme.

OBOM trains teach­ers how to en­cour­age read­ing and guides them as to the dif­fer­ent styles of how to de­velop a love for read­ing in chil­dren.

Six years ago a South Africa Part­ners pro­ject, Ma­si­bum­bane Devel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion was launched and, since then, the book do­na­tion has gone through the or­gan­i­sa­tion. One of their pro­grammes is the OBOM.

The school that Guzzi teaches at, John D Run­kle School in Mas­sachusetts has a book trad­ing pro­gramme, where pupils are able swap books. She said she jumped at the idea of start­ing a Kids to Kids book drive in 2009 to get pupils from her school to do­nate books to needy kids in South Africa.

They also raise funds and buy books to be do­nated in SA.

Guzzi has been to East Lon­don reg­u­larly since 2008, each time with a new con­sign­ment of books for a dif­fer­ent needy school to utilise.

She first came to South Africa through the South Africa Part­ners, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that “works to build ca­pac­ity and to strengthen the health and ed­u­ca­tion in­fra­struc­ture within South Africa”.

South Africa Part­ners seeks to build mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial part­ner­ships be­tween the United States and South Africa to pro­mote univer­sal ac­cess to qual­ity health­care and ed­u­ca­tion.

Guzzi said: “We do­nate to a dif­fer­ent school ev­ery year, ro­tat­ing be­tween the schools”.

The Amer­i­can teacher said that she went back to Brook­line, Mas­sachusetts, ev­ery year and in­formed pupils of the school the books were do­nated to.

Ma­si­bum­bane’s Nom­fundiso Ra­fuza says they “deal with ed­u­ca­tion from the cra­dle to col­lege”.

“We ini­tially started the [book do­na­tion] pro­ject at AW Barnes, Park­side and Pef­ferville pri­mary schools but de­cided to ex­pand it this year and this is why we’re at New Gen­er­a­tion. It has been very in­ter­est­ing to see what it does for teach­ers and learn­ers. It helps teach­ers and em­pow­ers learn­ers.

“The read­ing pro­ject is de­vel­op­ing learn­ers through their en­gage­ment; they are shar­ing and en­gag­ing more in class now and this is growth. Im­prov­ing read­ing for pupils helps them cope later in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem by lay­ing the foun­da­tion now,” Ra­fuza said.

A men­tor/coach of the Open Book Open Mind pro­gramme, Ruth Dela Rosa, said that teach­ers re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated their work. “We don’t just give work­shops to teach­ers but also do follow-ups after­wards – and they love this,” Dela Rosa said.

New Gen­er­a­tion teacher Kathy Theron said the pro­ject was “re­ally en­cour­ag­ing co-op­er­a­tive learn­ing”.

“It im­proves crit­i­cal think­ing and we love the in­ter­ac­tion with the learn­ers,” said the Grade 6 teacher who has been on OBOM train­ing.

School prin­ci­pal Ce­cil Peters was very thank­ful for the do­na­tion and OBOM.

“It works like a bomb, OBOM. Teach­ers say that [English] sec­ond lan­guage learn­ers talk more in class now and are not shy of how they speak any­more. I would like to thank all in­volved for bringing this pro­gramme to our school,” Peters said.

Pic­ture: BERNIE NEL

KIND GES­TURE: Amer­i­can teacher Joanne Guzzi, far right, do­nated 2 600 books to New Gen­er­a­tion Pri­mary re­cently. The do­na­tion went hand-in-hand with the Ma­si­bum­bane Devel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s read­ing pro­gramme to en­cour­age read­ing at pri­mary schools in...

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