Biblionef donates new children's books, in all eleven official languages of South Africa, to under-resourced children across the country. Biblionef South Africa, the funding group and program facilitator, commissions reprints and increased circulation of children's books with positive, relevant messaging in indigenous languages otherwise overlooked by larger publishing houses.
Relying on research showing that children who learn basic reading and writing skills in their mother tongue perform better throughout their educational lives, Biblionef commissions publishing and reprinting with local-language publishers and printers and focuses on African stories that children can easily relate to. Most books are written by local authors.
Several times a year, Biblionef engages individual schools or communities in book drives and other events to furnish entire school libraries. When funding permits, teacher training programs are also offered in participating schools to help teachers master the use of the donated books.
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CEI approaches in action
Book requests are received from two different types of organizations: direct beneficiaries and partial payment beneficiaries. For example, in 2012, there were 611 beneficiary organizations that received books. Of the 611 organizations, 410 were direct donations and 201 were funded projects through which the Book Donation Programme received compensation.
The Book Donation Programme has supplied over 1,000,000 books in the last 11 years. The program, which started as a one-man operation, now has 7 staff members.
Monitoring & Evaluation
The Book Donation Programme donates books to organizations with the expectation of receiving a report back about the use of the books six months after the donation. Emphasis is placed on building relationships between organizations and the Book Donation Programme, which streamlines and maximizes the effectiveness of each successive donation.
"...We then drove on to Irista Primary School in Kuils River where we were politely welcomed by the head boy and girl and then escorted to their library. This in itself is unusual, as it puts them amongst the 7% of schools in South Africa that possess a functioning library. Yes, 7%! What is more, Irista Primary built the library themselves out of funds they raised themselves. How’s that for initiative! However, back in 2007 they were the proud owners of a brand new library – but the shelves were empty. That was when Biblionef SA came to the rescue and donated … I can’t remember how many books, but it was pretty impressive. Today, to celebrate World Book Day, Biblionef came up with an equally inspired idea. With the sponsorship of Via Afrika Publishers, they handed over 1,190 books – in other words, a book for every child in the school. The school thanked Jean Williams of Biblionef, they thanked Mrs Watson of Via Afrika, they even thanked Mr Jay Heale, author, aged 75 who had nothing to do with it and had just come along to join in the fun. They also sang for us with great vigour, though only one song. We then visited many classrooms of Irista Primary: in each one every single child was holding a brand-new book with a look of amazement and rapture."
-Jay Heale, South African reporter and Biblionef volunteer