Kei Mouth was a hub for avid bookworms this week as scores of school pupils from across the Eastern Cape gathered at the town hall for this year’s national book week reading initiative.
Top performers from 30 former Model C schools around the province were invited to participate in a provincial spelling bee competition, a wordathon, as well as poetry reviews of SEK Mqhayi’s Sinking of the Mendi poem.
The initiative was a joint partnership between the Great Kei municipality and the department of sport, recreation, arts and culture (DSRAC).
National campaign Nali’bali was also part of the book week, hosting workshops for teachers and pupils to encourage and spread the love for books and reading in communities.
Pupils of all ages and their teachers and parents filled the town hall to witness hopefuls battle it out for first place in the activities. The cream of the crop walked away with prizes such as tablets, laptops and cameras.
Kei Mouth mayor, Loyiso Tshetsha said: “There is a misconception that blacks don’t read, and we want to prove that wrong. We invited pupils and their teachers and parents because we need their involvement as we invest in these pupils.”
He said the joint partnership would soon launch a book club campaign that would run across rural communities in the province. The clubs will be hosted in libraries for pupils, as well as adults in each community. A book club festival would also be on the cards for 2018, Tshetsha said.
“We want to see a turnaround in the culture of reading in small and rural communities. Both formal and non-formal reading is important in community building. This will help our municipalities too because if our people are empowered, they will be able to make a difference in their communities.”
DSRAC senior manager Lubabalo Dzedze said: “National research revealed that only 14% of South Africans read. Rural areas are hardest hit by illiteracy. Reading campaigns have been targeting suburban areas, so we’ve decided to target the areas with the greatest need.”
Grade 11 pupil Sinelizwi Ndumiso from Port St Johns Senior Secondary aced her poetry reviews at district level, which sent her to compete at the provincial round. She said: “I’m excited to be here because I was picked out of many pupils in schools. I’ve always wanted to attend and participate in such events, and to speak in front of people.”
Abukwe Gopeni in Grade 7 at Morgenster Junior Secondary School has competed in the spelling bee competition in Afrikaans, a language she said was foreign to her. She has been taking the first place in all spelling bees she’s been part of.
“I’m happy to be learning to spell big words in a language that I didn’t know.” — firstname.lastname@example.org