Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa
has committed himself as a patron of reading promotion in South Africa.
At an event at the Harare Library in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, recently,
the Deputy President encouraged South Africans to be “people of the book”.
The event was part of government’s community engagement endeavours and commenced
with a series of consultations with the view to establish a reading promotion campaign.
The Deputy President’s vision is the formation of a virtual book club that would target the youth and operate using some popular social media platforms.
“We would like to see a consultative process that could lead to the establishment of a national youth book club,” he said.
This intervention was in response to the lack of a culture of reading in the country.
Deputy President Ramaphosa made reference to the Reading Survey commissioned by the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC),
through the SA Book Development Council, which revealed that South Africa is not a reading nation.
The shocking statistics include the fact that only 14 per cent of the population are regular book readers, and that a mere five per cent of parents read to their children.
It is common knowledge that literacy underpins development in various aspects of life and a heightened culture of reading is a fundamental ingredient in the creation of a prosperous society.
With this in mind, various government components and civic organisations have been making efforts to promote literacy and a widespread culture of reading.
“We recognise the ground-breaking initiatives led by the DAC to develop an appetite for books, especially among our youth,” said the Deputy President.
Government is not new to reading promotion. In 2001, the late Kader Asmal, the then Minister of Education, initiated
the Masifunde Sonke campaign, which was followed by the Kha ri Gude mass literacy campaign in 2008.
In 2007, the DAC announced a R1 billion financial injection to community libraries through the Conditional Grants.
The DAC investment into library infrastructure has increased exponentially, with further R3 billion being committed to the 2014 – 2017 MTSF period.
As part of this intervention, libraries have been built and others refurbished in various communities across the country
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