Reading is the cornerstone of education and only 14% of South Africans read books. Over half of South African households do not have a single book intended for leisure reading. Research shows that children who read books frequently perform better academically than those who don’t. This, in turn, increases their chances of lucrative employment and playing a valuable role in the growth of the South African economy.

According to a press release Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, founder and chairperson of Adopt-a-School Foundation says true literacy comes from reading widely and deeply. He says books are a powerful tool for expanding your mind and understanding the world around you.

With National Book Week approaching, from the 04th to 10th September 2017, Adopt-a-School Foundation (AAS) is raising funds to continue the distribution of thousands of books to underprivileged schools throughout South Africa. The books, worth over R22 million, were donated by Oxford University Press South Africa.

Adopt-a-School Foundation is a project of the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation and was officially established in 2002 by a group of concerned individuals, including Cyril Ramaphosa and Dr James Motlatsi. The Foundation is registered as a Section 21 company with PBO status and has an Independent Board of Directors.

The Foundation works with a wide range of stakeholders including; District, Provincial and National Department of Basic Education, corporate donors, various service providers and best practice NGOs. The Foundation implements Whole School Development – a holistic model aimed at improving the academic, infrastructural, social and security environment in schools.

There are currently six hundred and twelve schools under the Adopt-a-School Foundation’s adoption programme. The Foundation works in all nine provinces in South Africa, and in 2012 started working in Lesotho and Mozambique.

AAS and Oxford University Press have a long-standing relationship. In 2015 the organisations partnered on the ‘Every Child Deserves a Dictionary’ campaign to distribute twenty-thousand dictionaries to schools in the AAS network around the country. AAS also provided teachers with training on how to use dictionaries effectively.

AAS has already distributed thousands of books to more than one hundred and twenty schools in all South African nine provinces. The books cover a wide range of topics, both fiction and non-fiction, and are appropriate for learners and aligned to the national curricula. The books also cater for all eleven national languages.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa also says that without access to a wide range of books, learners are less likely to develop a love for reading, and he says its reason why they are grateful for the generous donation from their partners at Oxford University Press.

There are 150 000 books remaining that AAS needs to allocate to schools, and the organisation is currently raising funds to enable this distribution. Deputy President Ramaphosa encourages all partners in business and society to help them distribute these books to the children of South Africa. He says together we can give the next generation of readers a chance to fall in love with books.

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