Silverlea Library Project
An ALeRT focus for literacy and teaching development
“When we read we are able to travel of many places, meet many people and understand the world. We can also learn how to deal with problems we are having by learning from the lessons of the past” (Nelson Mandela).
A converted shipping container (now two, in fact!) is our Primary School Library and we’re growing! In 2022 we intend to expand access to library services beyond just the school learners, to develop home reading and digital resources that are carefully crafted to support parent engagement with reading for pleasure.
Literacy, the ability to engage with text, as reader, writer, critic, participant, is every child’s route to socio-emotional & educational development. Literacy is the foundation of a flourishing life, of enlarging worldviews, of reimagining oneself.
Children in South Africa’s township communities still suffer the deprivations of an Apartheid past, most especially in inadequate economic opportunities, social services and, centrally, education. This is reflected in poor access to reading material in homes and families, most recently exacerbated by Covid school closures.
School libraries are not routinely government funded. Despite convincing evidence that access to quality reading material is the most important factor determining success in education, our children remain deprived of access to this fundamental foundation for learning and development.
The Silverlea Primary Library Project was started in 2018 as a passion project of the school’s then principal, Sandy Daniels. A container donated by Breadline Africa housed its first books, and library lessons, serving. 850 learners from Grade 1 to 7, were held outside. Subsequent support helped the school purchase a second container of sufficient size for classes to be held indoors. Refurbishment of this took place during covid and the new library opened its doors in August 2021. Regular monitoring of learner engagement and performance has already reflected a significant shift in the relationship between learners, their books and their excitement to master reading.
In 2020, the Silverlea Library project engaged with, and is now a participant and beneficiary of, the Impact Trust’s ALeRT programme (Accessing Learning through Responsive Teaching). Through this relationship the Trust also provides financial oversight, governance and accountability to donors of the project. Read the latest project report here.
In 2021 and 2022 the focus will continue to nurture this passion for literacy by expanding school and community wide operation of the library, developing materials to showcase reading and writing and piloting a Grade 4 home-based literacy intervention for children with their parents using a digital reading platform alongside parental engagement and support in developing reading and writing at home.
We believe that the library, the school and the communities it serves will be active contributors to, and beneficiaries of learnings through the ALeRT programme’s search for ways in which to develop a classroom pedagogy that works in dialogue with the experience that learners bring with them to the teaching and learning relationship.
For one week from this Giving Tuesday (30th November 2021) the Impact Trust is once again participating in the Big Give Christmas Challenge and looking to raise funds to extend Silverlea Library programme into the homes of children in all its township communities. The Big Give Challenge is a matched funding challenge that encourages people to give because their funds will be doubled through the generous contribution of Charity Champions! If you want to know more and/or are willing to support this and want to be reminded when the campaign opens for giving, please register your interest here.