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ALRU Projects

The Patogeng library project

One of the biggest challenges in the implementation of projects in poor and underperforming schools is that of sustainability. For changes to be meaningful they need to be sustained.  One factor that challenges the sustainability of literacy interventions is that there are not yet formal post structures in the Department of Basic Education to pay for school librarians, so schools in high poverty areas find it very difficult to find additional funds to pay for school librarians.

Patogeng Primary School in Atteridgeville was involved in the Reading is FUNdamental  project from 2006-2009. Once the project ended in 2009, the school could not afford to pay their librarian, and without a librarian the school library was not functional. ALRU has been helping the school in this regard with a short-term project (2010-2011) to continue supporting the school library and librarian, with support from the Dean’s fund (College of Human Sciences).

Mrs Nicoline Wessels from the Department of Information Science was one of the project team members who originally helped the school establish its computerised library system and trained Ms Charlotte Masha as librarian. During 2010-2011 Mrs Wessels, together with a colleague from her department, Mrs Nampombe Mnkeni-Saurombe, continued to support the school librarian and monitored the management of the school library.

The librarian, Charlotte Masha, completed her degree through Unisa. She catalogues the books, manages the library collection, works closely with her library monitors and has become a passionate promoter of reading at the school. The school library now has a collection of over 5,000 books in Northern Sotho and English and children use the library on a regular basis.

Patogeng school librarian Charlotte Masha and her library monitors on a literacy outing

Foshini has recently made a generous once-off payment of R50,0000.00 that will help keep the school library open during 2012.

Below are some comments from learners about their library.

My life really change I have became a reader when I didn’t expect to be. Reading help me to know my English better than before   (Gontse, Grade 7)
Our library is a very big place and its full of fun and interesting books. When there is no teacher in my class I usually go there. I really love the library because it has really made a difference in my life and to other learners as well, but not all of them, there are two grade 7 boys who doesn’t take books… (Koki, Grade 7)
I’ve read 17 books. I’ve ritten 4 book reports. I wish our library must be grown (Salmon, Grade 7)
Now that we have a library in our school, we can go there at breaks, after school or during reading periods. The books are fun and interesting  (Grade 7)
I go to the library with my friends Itu and Kelello.  It is a quiet place that you can read without any disturbance and any noise and people interrupting you… Ms Masha is a loving and caring person  (Katlego)

Research outcomes

Papers delivered at Conferences

Wessels, N. 2010. Innovation in school libraries in townships: a case study. 12th LIASA Annual Conference, Gauteng, 27 September – 1 October 2010.
Wessels, N. & Mnekeni-Saurombe, N. 2010. Reading promotion in a township school library: a “school librarian’s” story. The 2nd UNISA conference on reading Promotion & Storytelling Festival for Children.  (At the latter conference the Patogeng librarian, Ms Charlotte Masha, and one of the learners who was a school library monitor participated in the presentation. The paper received a standing ovation from the audience.)
Wessels, N. 2011. The book: power and potential in South African township school libraries. ALIA national library & information technicians conference, Perth, 12–16 September.