The DBE has joined hands with the Vodacom Foundation, Hauwei and the Nelson Mandela Foundation to create an eLibraries project in support of the Department’s 1000 Libraries Initiative. Minister Angie Motshega is embarking on a 1000 libraries project to mark the birthday of the late former President, Mr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela during Mandela Month. The partnership will see the establishment of digital reading corners at 61 teacher Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) centres across the country. A total of 400 tablets will be distributed to the selected centres and loaded with a range of reading materials for teachers and other users of the centres to access. The content has been provided by publishers, free of charge, and will include African Literature, fiction, business and entrepreneurship, as well as History and educational material supplied by the DBE.

Deputy Minister Enver Surty reminded guests that ICT is crucial to improve the quality and efficiency of the education system in a number of aspects, including administration, e-learning and teacher training. “ICT is an enabler of education. Already we issue millions of workbooks annually and these books are all available digitally, with some being fully interactive,” said the Deputy Minister, and continued: “In this day and age we cannot talk of a library without an ICT component and what this project seeks to do is take the traditional sense of a library and locate it in the 21st century.”

Vodacom Group Chief Executive Officer, Shameel Joosub said: “Our aim is to use our technology to help make a difference in the communities where our customers live. Through this initiative, Vodacom seeks to enable learners and community members to read e-books at the centres for free. Access to reading material is a major challenge in South Africa. As many learners do not have access to libraries and reading material, Vodacom together with its partners believe that we can help address this challenge by broadening access to literacy in this way.”

The rollout of the project will start from 13 July 2015. It is envisioned that the project will give birth to reading clubs at the centres where they are situated, thus fostering a culture of reading amongst educators and learners alike.