Our second morning in South Africa was better spent than the previous, waking up with plenty of time to spare and think about the new systems we would put in place at Ramlakan. We rose to beautiful weather once again, blessed with hot sun and clear skies, this was a privilege for us, being used to the grey drizzle of the UK!
We had big plans for the day ahead, including our new bookmark scheme and library cards. As we pulled into the school, the children were standing in line to receive their one government funded meal for the day. We are told that this is the only proper sustenance some children eat all day, their families not being able to provide for all of their children. Altough Ramlakan is a state funded school, it is obvious that government input is only to cover the bare minimal.
Mrs Kaunda tells us that she tries to buy at least one or two books for the children out of her own salary. Even so, most books are so overused that their pages are falling out. We are thankful that the school has a room allocated to be the library, it is in a building with two other classrooms; the computer lab and the science room. When we arrived yesterday, both rooms were heartbreakingly empty. We are told that the block was built with money donated by a successful former student, an amazing contribution, but unfortunately it has turned into something of a ‘white elephant’, the school being without adequate staffing or funds to fill the rooms. Now, with the books and the computers, we have filled two of these
rooms, finally putting them to use, expanding the school and hopefully the children’s education.
The shelves are now filled, and we have a total of 900+ books! They range from Miffy, to Children’s Brittania, DK encyclopaedias and Horrid Henry. A huge thank you to anyone who contributed, and as the project will expand in the future, anyone with books to donate can please email us (address is in the ‘contact us’ menu).
The concept of a bookmark, something so familiar and intuitive to us, was completely foreign to the learners. As each class came in for their session, we had to explain, through the translation of a teacher, what a bookmark is and how to use it. Even so, they were hesitant and marginally confused with the blank strips of paper in front of them, and we had to do a few demonstrations….
Although everyone had brought their own chewed biros, we supplied them with an array of sharpies and coloured pens. Once these were revealed, the once reserved children leaped forward to snatch their favourite colour. Names were written, footballs were drawn and some children coloured the whole thing in neon highlighters. Soon they were ready for lamination, using a newly donated laminator we had sourced earlier in the week.
The room was teaming with children running around the tables, bright bookmarks flapping in the air as they rushed to pick a book from the shelves. Each child chose the first book that they would read, which they placed their bookmark in. The book was then given to the teacher who logged it in the children book log. The children book log is a box in which each student has an individual card, and the book they are reading at that time is written on it. This book is effectively ‘checked out’ although it never leaves the room, it is placed on the child’s allocated grade shelf. When the child has finished reading the book, it is ticked off on the card, and the book is put back on its original shelf.
We have now created our first library system! Please keep donating on the ‘donate’ button, and get in touch if you have any books for the future!