Read more, learn faster, work smarter

Konica Minolta South Africa’s continued efforts to increase youth literacy

 This week sees the globe acknowledging our valued teachers on World Teacher’s Day celebrated on 5 October 2021. Teachers have long made the most significant impact of ensuring a literate South Africa, and work notoriously hard, especially since the pandemic has meant disrupted teaching and a great deal of rapid changes to ways of working. Our teachers need as much support as possible, especially at under-resourced schools without expansive access to books and technology.

Konica Minolta South Africa, an award-winning provider of print technology, document management solutions and multifunctional devices has over the past year continued its efforts to connect the youth with access to literacy by partnering with the Edu-Care Foundation, through the impactful Konica Minolta Mobile Library.

Wider access to literacy 

The Mobile Library has, since its inception in 2012, created a platform for young learners to access a variety of books and other literacy resources to assist these eager young minds with the completion of their homework while providing a safe sanctuary for ongoing studies and reading.

The Mobile Library is currently in Roodepoort, Gauteng, supporting both Jozua Naude Primary as well as Roodepoort Primary, with plans to expand to KwaZulu-Natal in 2022. The mobile library has provided a service to several impoverished community schools. Operational three days a week and available between 08:00 and 16:00, the Mobile Library also acts as an IT centre as it is equipped with state-of-the-art Konica Minolta multifunctional printing devices allowing students greater creative freedom when working on school projects, through these additional resources. The children are also able to access technology, which they may not have in their homes.

‘We remain strongly committed to our ongoing literacy efforts across South Africa as we believe every child should have the right to easily access reading materials. The youth are pivotal to the success of our country, and through our Konica Minolta Mobile Library, we are able to directly connect students with opportunities that can create brighter futures,’ says Marc Pillay, CEO of Konica Minolta South Africa.

More words, less worrying

In 2019, the South African adult illiteracy rate was 12 percent, meaning 4.4 million adults in South Africa are illiterate. While the majority of children in South Africa now receive formal schooling, children living in impoverished environments have even less chance of learning to read. The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) assesses children’s reading comprehension and placed South African children last across 50 countries. The study results showed 78 percent of Grade 4 learners in South Africa cannot read for “basic meaning” – this evaluates the child’s ability to read with clear comprehension skills. This means that the next generation will enter the workforce without these very basic skills that are vital to their future.

Given the pandemic and its ongoing disruptions to school calendars, many disadvantaged students with no access to online learning, suffered huge gaps of information sharing as they rely on direct contact with teachers. While teachers are stretched thin by doubling up on class work to make up for missed school days and to ensure proper social distancing. Partnerships between community leadership, schools and private organisations are key to closing this knowledge gap.

The Mobile Library, which is fully Covid-19-compliant, uses Edu-Care’s distinctive R.E.A.D initiative (Respect, Education, Attitude and Discipline) providing a safe and effective resource base to ensure minimal learning disturbance. The books on offer are also regularly changed to facilitate better literacy stimulus.

‘Our partnership with Konica Minolta South Africa has provided us with a unique opportunity to act as a safety net for students without access. In addition, through our Literacy Lessons, we are able to assess and assist learners to gauge their reading improvement in preparation for the next grade, making sure that no one is left behind.’ concludes Beverly Peters, Literacy Manager at Edu-Care.

Konica Minolta South Africa plans to rapidly increase the Mobile Library footprint across wider areas locally, to provide greater access to resources, learning materials and a developed IT infrastructure that catalyses improved literacy.