An English and History teacher at Kgato Primary School in Rocklands, Mangaung, Tshepang-Tejako Leepile, firmly believes that reading can change lives and is determined to make reading and life-long learning accessible for his pupils.
Nal’ibali, the national Reading for Enjoyment campaign, has selected Leepile to receive a hanging library as a token of appreciation and to further support his work. This is in honour of Leepile’s activism during October, which is International School Library Month.
Leepile started a reading club at Kgato Primary with the help of Nal’ibali in 2013 when he noticed that most of the children had untapped potential. Today, the group he started with – then in Grade 3 and 4 and now in Grade 10 and 11 – are mentors to younger children in the reading club, helping to pass on and grow a love of reading in the school’s community.
“I like seeing potential in children and creating space for them to learn through reading and engaging with books,” said Leepile. His love for literacy is multifaceted and he leads by example, writing poems which he shares with his club members.
The work that Leepile and Kgato Primary are doing to improve literacy has had a noticeable impact on rooting a culture of reading in the school community. They have seen their learners become more interested and driven to take part in district and provincial debating competitions, with the highest achievement being that of Lindiwe Makhoba (11), who has been chosen as this year’s national winner of the Nal’ibali annual storytelling contest, better known as Story Bosso.
“Having access to leisure books and stories at an early age is essential for children. It provides them with the language foundation they need to do well in the classroom, as well as for success later in life. However, most South African children have limited access to books; living beyond the easy reach of a public library and without a wide selection of books to choose from at home, which makes school libraries, classroom reading corners, and the adults who supervise them, critically important,” said Nal’ibali Literacy Mentor working in Rocklands area, Molefe Mpesi.