Bridgestone South Africa

Bridgestone Tyres Keep Mobile Libraries Going

Jan 19, 2015
Bloemfontein Bus

Bloemfontein Bus

Free State Motheo Bus

Free State Motheo Bus

All nine provinces of South Africa now offer a mobile library service to schools without libraries of their own, and the substantial operating costs of this service have been trimmed thanks to Bridgestone's ongoing tyre sponsorship of the fleet.

A total of 50 mobile libraries bring this all-important service to 885 schools across the country. "The typical mobile library is a converted bus which offers a selection from over 550 000 children's books available to the project," explained Bridgestone PR Manager, Desirée van Niekerk. "Our sponsorship of this initiative goes hand-in-hand with our involvement in other education activities such as the Diepsloot pre-schools project, Bridging for Life and our ongoing support for the Rally to Read initiative," she added.

The Mobile Library Project is overseen by SAPESI (the South African Primary Education Support Initiative) and moves into its 11th year in 2015. Apart from general library services, the project also includes a specialised bus for Grade R kindergarten learners, which has been rolled out in Gauteng. The mobile libraries include on-board librarians to assist learners with fostering a love of reading. The service has proven particularly useful in the Free State - one-third of all schools without libraries in the province are now serviced by the Bridgestone-shod mobile libraries.

However, challenges remain - according to SAPESI, fewer than ten percent of all South African schools have functional libraries! In order to improve understanding of the impact of the Mobile Libraries, the Free State University's School of Education is undertaking a study which will help improve the service across the country. Data from the study is expected to be available at the end of 2015.

Away from the books and buses themselves, there are other practical problems - some schools have no electricity supply, so the buses carry on-board generators to ensure the libraries function optimally during school visits.

"One of the many aspects which impressed us about the Mobile Library Project is the emphasis on continued development," van Niekerk commented. "For instance, some rural schools are being equipped with start-up libraries to help them make the transition from a mobile library to a school library," she explained. "Education is the key to the future and it will remain one of Bridgestone's pivotal areas of social responsibility involvement," she concluded.

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Bridgestone South Africa

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