Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, has encouraged learners to read and help turn South Africa into a prosperous development state.
"I cannot over emphasise the importance of books and reading. Illiteracy is a national threat. There is no better time to start promoting reading and the value of books than now," the minister said at the launch of Chevron-sponsored Library and Learning Centre at Inkwenkwezi Secondary School in the Western Cape.
"Without books and other learning materials, turning South Africa into a truly and prosperous developmental state would remain a dream never to be attained.
"Building such a state that is committed to the creation of a better life for all our people needs young people who can read and write, add and subtract, reason and pontificate," she said.
However, the minister said this can only be possible when government, the private sector and communities work together to make education a societal issue.
"All of us have a duty to ensure we have learners who can read, write and calculate," she said.
Research has shown that many learners who complete grade 6 are not able to write even simple sentences or do basic arithmetic.
"This problem of an unacceptably low level of learning can be found across all grades. But above all, there are too many learners who, after many years of school, have not mastered the skills they should have mastered.
"Our mission remains that of a South Africa in which all our people have access to lifelong quality education, which will in turn contribute towards improving the quality of life and building a peaceful, prosperous and democratic society," she said.
Research has shown that learners with access to library resources deliver higher achievements, improved literacy levels and have a greater success rate.
"With adequate levels of connectivity, libraries and information literacy programmes, schools can best prepare learners to meet the challenges of the knowledge economy," she said.
Motshekga said as government they were working hard at addressing the backlogs in library resource provision and have opted for an incremental approach to the provisioning of library resources.
The department's multi-faceted approach to combating illiteracy includes a National Reading Strategy for schools.
The strategy is aimed at developing learners who read to learn, and read for enjoyment and enrichment. The availability of libraries is one of the enabling factors for achieving this goal. - BuaNews