Last year, Konica Minolta South Africa converted a light commercial vehicle into a mobile library, providing children who did not have access to books in their schools and communities with the opportunity to improve their literacy skills. The fully kitted out Mercedes-Benz Sprinter was entrusted to The Edu-Care Foundation, a non-profit organisation that through its R.E.A.D. (respect, education, attitude and discipline) initiative, assists children in the foundation phase to improve their reading ability – a necessary tool to function in society, nourish problem solving as well as the imagination, and ultimately find a good job.
“The mobile library services the Gauteng area, ranging from the West Rand to the East Rand and even a school in Hammanskraal,” says project initiator Laetitia Coetzer, special projects manager at Konica Minolta South Africa. “But it did not stop there. After this successful initiative we were inundated with requests from schools lacking a functional library, or with no library at all.”
She adds that international research indicates that one way to improve literacy and the overall academic performance of learners is for every school to have a well-stocked library. At present only eight percent of schools in South Africa has a functional library, with just one library costing R2.5 million to set up, which neither schools nor the Educational Department has the money to do.
“We knew we had to do more, so we engaged in discussions again with Daleen Havenga, founder of The Edu-Care Foundation. Together we came up with the idea of reintroducing the age-old concept of reading corners, specifically designed for ground phase learners, as this is where reading abilities are being born. We wanted to establish a special space, away from the normal classroom environment, where the children could sit or lie down on carpets and pillows and listen to a story being told, or to simply leaf through the pages of a book, looking at pictures and ultimately give them the ability to read,” explains Coetzer.
“We then created a logo to help entice children to read – using our bizhub colours with a wise inquisitive looking owl –and our bizbook corners were born.”
The bizbook corner concept was discussed with teachers and educators at various schools, and the interest was overwhelming. In the end, the Josua Naude Primary School in Roodepoort, Unified Public School in Maraisburg, and Horizon View Primary School in Roodepoort were chosen to be the recipients of the first bizbook corners. Two of these three schools had areas that could be used for the bizbook corner, so the first step was the major clean-up, renovation and painting of the spaces. Horizon View Primary did not have a usable space, so Konica Minolta South Africa erected a wendy house in the junior phase playground. “Once the dedicated areas were serviceable, we were then able to make a start on the fun phase of the corners’ development: putting books on the shelves; posters on the walls; unpacking the additional CDs, DVDs, paint and puzzles; and furnishing the corners with tables, chairs, carpets and pillows; basically everything needed to help stimulate the mind of a growing child,” enthuses Coetzer.
Upon completion, each bizbook corner was officially handed over to the schools’ administrators to manage, whilst staff of Konica Minolta South Africa was on hand to read stories to the children.
“The bizbook corners are a natural progression from the use of the mobile library. Currently the mobile library services grade four to grade seven, but the grade R to grade three learners are still learning how to read, and need special attention and books, hence the evolution of bizbook corners,” explains Havenga. “We are delighted that Konica Minolta South Africa is dedicated to finding solutions to South Africa’s literacy problem.”
ABOUT KONICA MINOLTA SOUTH AFRICA:
Konica Minolta South Africa, wholly owned by the Bidvest Group, stands at the forefront of business solution providers as the principal importer and distributor of the innovative and award winning Konica Minolta range of bizhub digital multi-functional colour and black & white devices, laser printers, fax machines and business solutions, into South Africa as well as Namibia, Malawi, Botswana and Swaziland. Konica Minolta South Africa’s head office is based in Johannesburg and its distribution network is supported by 17 branches and 49 dealerships. With an operational stance of consultative business partnering, the group provides clients with holistic document management solutions: through pre-sales analysis, audits to sales, installation, on-going onsite technical and software management as well as the supply of spare parts and consumables.