A Cape Town man is building book booths to encourage greater reading literacy among children. The booths are part of Kannemeyer Primary School’s (KPS) Reading Revolution, an initiative created to tackle South Africa’s low literacy rates among children.

Kannemeyer Primary School in Grassy Park began the KPS Reading Revolution initiative because of the lack of reading comprehension among the South African youth. According to Help 2 Read, 80% of Grade 5 learners between the ages of nine and 10 have not mastered basic reading skills. A lack of reading resources in the majority of South African schools is part of the problem.

Low literacy rates have far-reaching implications on society. School performance can become stunted, and adults who struggle to read are more likely to have employment and up-skilling problems. Economic growth is affected as well. Help 2 Read reports an estimate that South Africa’s GDP would be 23% – 30% higher if the population was fully literate.

Former Kannemeyer pupil Emile Coetzee met with the school’s principal Ridwan Samodien to discuss ways to encourage reading among children. Both are incredibly passionate about fostering a greater reading culture among the South African youth.

“We are trying our utmost, by using all means available to encourage a love for reading, but more importantly to develop reading with understanding,” says Samodien.

Coetzee, who owns Epik Set Construction, began looking into options and got the idea of a book booth. The booth was designed and built by Coetzee and his team of carpenters. The booths look like traditional British telephone booths, and are open for kids to use before school, during break time, and after school.

“Our shared vision is to increase the level of literacy among youths, make reading fun again, and make books more accessible for young people. In the words of Mr. Samodien, start a reading revolution!” says Coetzee.

The book booths look like traditional British telephone booths.
The kids are already putting the book booth to good use.

“The Reading Booth has caused such a hype at school that we believe with more of these book booths available, it eliminates the red tape of borrowing and simply builds trust, responsibility, and respect for books [which] will start to manifest itself with our kids,” says Samodien.

The kids of Kannemeyer Primary appear excited about their new book booth.

In future, Samodien and Coetzee hope to have a book booth for each grade. These booths will come in different colours to represent the six values of the school: blue for trustworthiness, green for responsibility, yellow for respect, orange for fairness, red for caring, and purple for citizenship. They also want to assist other schools in their own reading revolutions.

Coetzee encourages old pupils to identify how they can use their skills to help their alma maters. Coetzee believes that everyone can and should make a change.

“Teachers alone, without assistance from outside cannot win the battle to give kids the best education. The surrounding community should not wait for our government [to] assist, we must step up. ”

Samodien encourages former learners, parents, and grandparents as well as the wider community to donate books or money towards the construction of the booths.

If you would like to support this initiative, please contact Samodien on [email protected] or drop off books at the school.

Picture: Supplied

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