The tyres that help get the books to the children of South Africa
WHEELS salutes the best use of wheels in South Africa, where Bridgestone sponsors 50 library buses visiting schools in all nine provinces.
The mobile libraries visit 885 schools without their own libraries.
“The typical mobile library is a converted bus which offers a selection from over 550 000 children’s books available to the project,” said Bridgestone public relations manager Desirée van Niekerk.
“Our sponsorship of this initiative goes hand-in-hand with our involvement in other education activities such as the Diepsloot preschools project, Bridging for Life and our ongoing support for the Rally to Read initiative,” she added.
The Mobile Library Project is overseen by Sapesi (the South African Primary Education Support Initiative) and moves into its 11th year this year. Apart from general library services, the project also includes a specialised bus for Grade R pre-primary pupils, which has been rolled out in Gauteng. The mobile libraries include on-board librarians to assist pupils with fostering a love of reading.
The service has proven particularly useful in the Free State, and one-third of all schools without libraries in the province are now serviced by the Bridgestone-shod mobile libraries.
However, challenges remain, according to Sapesi —fewer than 10% of all South African schools have functional libraries. To improve understanding of the impact of the mobile libraries, the Free State University’s school of education is undertaking a study that will help improve the service across the country. Data from the study is expected to be available at the end of the year.
Away from the books and buses themselves, there are other practical problems as some schools have no electricity supply, so the buses carry on-board generators to ensure the libraries function optimally during school visits.
“One of the many aspects which impressed us about the Mobile Library Project is the emphasis on continued development,” said Van Niekerk.
“For instance, some rural schools are being equipped with start-up libraries to help them make the transition from a mobile library to a school library,” she said.
“Education is the key to the future and it will remain one of Bridgestone’s pivotal areas of social-responsibility involvement,” she said.
Pupils get books from one of 50 mobile library buses riding on Bridgestone tyres in SA.