The official hand-over of the Nkuri Modular Library coincides with the Youth Month commemoration.
The 2016 Youth Month is commemorated under the theme: “Youth Moving South Africa Forward” and commemorates 40 years since the June 16 1976, Soweto uprising when hundreds of young people protested against the apartheid government and their imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.
It was on that day that hundreds of young people lost their lives in the struggle for the liberation, which started a revolt that spread to other parts of country crafting a South Africa that is democratic, non-racist, non-sexist and belonging to all who live in it.
The Class of 1976 exposed the brutality of the apartheid regime to the world and ignited resistance around the country. Forty years later young people must help to keep their legacy alive by taking advantage of opportunities to build our country and change their lives. Young people must participate in democratic structures and processes like elections.
I am delighted to be part of the historic event of the hand-over of the modular library as we mark yet another milestone of community development in our country.
This year libraries across the country celebrated the South African Library week in March under the theme #Libraries4LifeLongLearnig. Lifelong learning “is the voluntary act of learning throughout life” therefore I urge all South Africans here today starting from our young ones to the elderly to never stop learning and reading.
This modular library is here for you to use in developing yourself and acquiring knowledge which you will carry with you forever. The love of books is better instilled at a young age, therefore I advice parents to read to their children daily from an early age. The heritage you will pass on to the children by reading to them will last for forever.
Government has shown its commitment to promote the culture of reading, through the Department of Arts and Culture’s Community Library Conditional Grant. The grant aims to improve the library sector through improving infrastructure, purchasing library materials, access to free internet, providing services to the visually impaired and the establishment of toy libraries amongst other things.
Since its inception 81 new libraries have been built, 343 libraries upgraded and more than 1400 jobs have been created.
The department seeks to make libraries information hubs of each community and through the grant we are able to offer services which are needed by communities.
Our libraries have free access to internet and updated library materials. This brings equality by making it possible for a library user in a rural area to access the same information as a user in an urban area.
Access to information is a right and through the Conditional Grant the Department will continue to promote the right for access to information. In 2016/17 the department will build 23 new libraries and upgrade 55 existing library structures.
Ms Norah Ngobeni, from Nkuri village in Giyani wrote to the Deputy President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa (responding to his reading campaign), requesting a library building, books and furniture.
She mentioned that students and community members travel 21 kilometres to get information for studies, assignments and researches, and the challenge is money for transport to town.
The hand-over of a Modular Library to the Nkuri community is a short-term solution whilst building a brick and mortar library will commence in due course. This library will serve schools and the community in Nkuri and the surrounding villages.
The National Development Plan, Vision 2030, envisages each community with a school; teachers who love teaching and learning; a local library filled with a wealth of knowledge, and a librarian.
Government has made available reading materials in all South African Languages. The National Library is driving the project of reprinting the classics in indigenous languages, this is another initiative for government to promote and preserve our heritage.
Nelson Mandela said:
“if you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”.
The department promotes the use of ingenious languages, we need to make sure that our young ones are proud of their languages and take pride in expressing themselves in their mother tongue. In that way they would also embrace their cultures and identity.
Earlier on we hoisted the National Flag at Zamani Primary School. In pursuit of National Identity, Patriotism, love for our country, nation building and social cohesion, the Department continues to install flags, promote the preamble of the Constitution and the correct etiquette of singing both the National and AU anthems in schools.
South Africa was honoured to be a recipient of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grant. The Foundation donated R32 million as part of a pilot project (Mzansi Libraries On-line) which was rolled out in 27 Libraries across the country. In each province 3 libraries were selected.
The aim of the project is to enhance work already started by the Department which provides internet and technology equipment in public libraries countrywide. The beneficiaries of this project in Limpopo were Ga-Phaahla, Mogalakwena and Thulamela libraries.
As a result of the success of the pilot project, South Africa was awarded the Country Grant of One Hundred and Twenty Million rands for computers, enhance internet access in libraries, educational toys, training staff as well as technology for the visually impaired.
The Mzansi Libraries On-Line project be rolled out in 667 public libraries across the country. Libraries in Limpopo are also earmarked for this project. Each library will receive computers, tablets, printers, scanners, games and training for the staff.
Libraries are moving with times and for them to be relevant and appealing especially to our children and the youth we are making them to be more fun and vibrant.
It is my wish that everybody in the community will take ownership of this facility and protect it against anything that threatens to vandalise or destroy it.
This Modular Library belongs to you, use it, become literate and read together as families.
Let us make reading part of our daily lives and let everyone of us share a book with a colleague, family, friends and neighbours as a way of enhancing social cohesion.
May the Nkuri community develop a culture of reading and a life-long desire to learn and develop intellectually, emotionally and culturally.
Let us turn South Africa into a reading nation. We should use the knowledge acquired through reading to strive towards a better and literate South Africa.
Allow me to end with a quote from the former Secretary – General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan:
“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories.
Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right. Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.”
I thank you.