Address by Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi at the launch of the Mapoteng Mzansi Libraries Online in Mapoteng Village, Gamagara Local Municipality

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26 Mar 2015

Programme director;

MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture, Mr Lebogang Motlhaping;

Mayors present;

Councillors;

Representative of the South African National Library;

Distinguished guests;

Government officials;

Members of the community;

Members of the media;

Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning

“For an individual, reading opens up new worlds, reveals new ideas and suggests new opportunities.

For a nation, reading is a gateway to a different, better future. A winning nation actively promotes reading.

Reading books is not just an enjoyable past time. It is an integral part of our struggle to be a free and prosperous nation.”

These are the words spoken by the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa during his engagement with young people about the importance of reading at Harare Library in Khayelitsha. 

It gives me great pleasure to be part of this auspicious occasion of the launch of the Mzansi Libraries On-Line pilot project here at Mapoteng Public Library.

Earlier this morning, I visited Seshen Intermediate Mine School, to hoist our National Flag as part of the Department of Arts and Culture’s Flag in every School campaign.

This campaign seeks to inculcate the spirit of patriotism and the love for our country as well as to promote nation building, national identity and social cohesion.

It involves amongst others, hoisting of the National Flag, the correct etiquette of singing the National Anthem, the recital of the Preamble of the Constitution by the learners, distribution of the South African hand flags and publications on national symbols as well as the CD Tool Kit on how to sing the National Anthem.

Public libraries play a pivotal role in the South African society and have increasingly been transformed during the past twenty years and are still in a process of transformation. Our society experiences an ever increasing need for information in different kinds of formats.

National government, in cooperation with provincial Departments of Arts and Culture, has started transforming the urban and rural public library infrastructures, facilities and services into more functional institutions with the provision of more study areas, computer and internet facilities, venues where communities can meet and where children can play with educational toys.

We find that the public library has become a popular place where communities look for jobs on the internet, where they make photocopies, and where they register for courses that they would like to study, besides reading of course.

Libraries and a reading culture are of strategic importance to socio-economic growth and development.  We must encourage ourselves and our children to read, because through reading we become literate and South Africa needs literate people since we are a developing country.

We need to read to our children from early childhood as a family, thus making major contributions towards creating a culture of reading and literacy.

A culture of reading will contribute towards a life-long desire to learn and develop oneself intellectually, emotionally, and culturally.  We therefore need vibrant community libraries, stocked with new, relevant books across all subjects, to assist people improve their skills and to prepare themselves better for their professions.

Libraries are places of hope that provide the means to especially poor people to escape poverty and hopelessness by empowering them through the provision of a world of information and knowledge. Information is a key component to develop an informed nation and a strong democracy.

Research shows that “Children who read once a week have an advantage of about 5 percentage points in the literacy test over those who do no reading at home; when reading is done 3 times a week the advantage is increased to 10 points and those who read more than 3 times a week are likely to be about 12 points ahead.”

I urge librarians to establish activities like book clubs and debate clubs which will instil the culture of reading in this community and encourage the community to take ownership of different activities in their library.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with the National Library of SA run a pilot project in all 9 provinces to expand access to digital resources. R32 million has been allocated towards this pilot project that will run for two years, with the possibility of expanding the project for another five years should the results from the pilot project prove to be successful.

The main aim of the Mzansi Libraries On-Line is to: provide free internet connectivity for all South Africans through public libraries, create an informed and information literate society, in support of the goals of the National Development Plan, contribute to the improvement of quality of life in South Africa by developing and sustaining the library and information service which will promote and inform an information-literate citizenry who can participate meaningfully in a democratic and knowledge-based society.

Rietfontein, Galeshewe and Mapoteng public libraries are libraries that will benefit from the Mzansi Libraries On-Line project in the Northern Cape. We are here today to deliver the IT equipment (20 computers, 10 tablets, 1 scanner, 10 e-readers and gaming set up) estimated at R470 000 to the community of Mapoteng.

Launching this pilot project during the month of March coincides perfectly with the theme for SA Library Week “connect @ your library”. With the equipment delivered here today, the community of Mapoteng will indeed connect @ their public library.

ICT can be used as a tool to fight poverty, increase employment and educate the community on entrepreneurship.

People use broadband for different reasons but mainly for communication, work and research. With universal access people will not need to call their municipality, go to Home Affairs or Social Welfare, they can do everything on line at their local library.

In many communities, the only free public access to computers and the internet is available at public libraries, which indicates that government’s investment into public libraries delivers a good return. The continuation of rolling out information and computer technology in public libraries in all provinces will further enable the public to have access to this important technology.

It is my wish that everybody in the community will take ownership of this facility, use it and become information literate. May the community develop a culture of reading and a life-long desire to learn and develop intellectually, emotionally, and culturally.

I thank you.