DA commends Dunoon Library as a beacon of learning defying national education crisis

Issued by Baxolile (Bax) Nodada MP – DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education
07 Mar 2024 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Baxolile (Bax) Nodada MP. Also see video and photos here, here, here and here.

Today, I visited the Dunoon Library, a world-class facility. The library, which opened its doors five years ago as a joint venture involving local, provincial, and national government, symbolises a commitment to providing high-quality learning resources to vulnerable communities.

The Dunoon Library has played a crucial role in fostering a culture of learning within the community, offering a safer space for learners to conduct research for projects and school assignments. With a collection of 15 000 written and audiovisual materials, residents have access to a wealth of knowledge, promoting individual and community growth and empowerment. The library services 32 Early Childhood Development Centres, three high schools and five primary schools.

The library has a real significance against the backdrop of concerning educational trends in South Africa. Recent data indicates a decline in literacy rates, with the percentage of Grade 4 learners unable to read for meaning increasing from 78% in 2016 to 81% in 2021, exacerbated by challenges stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic. The PIRLS study further revealed that 56% of Grade 6 learners cannot read for meaning at a Grade 4 level.

Alarming statistics reveal that 60% of learners haven’t learned most alphabet letters by the end of Grade 1, and over 30% still don’t know all the letters by the end of Grade 2. The World Literacy Foundation estimates that illiteracy costs the country’s economy R119 billion, affecting around 3 million people struggling with basic reading, writing, and math skills.

The 2023 Education Facility Management System (EFMS) Report reveals that 74.2% of public schools lack libraries, and only 56.9% of existing libraries are adequately stocked. While the DA governed Western Cape is actively creating spaces to improve these results, taking kids off the streets and into quality education.

We commend the Western Cape’s commitment to education, especially initiatives such as the Back on Track Programme, rapid school building despite budget cuts, and a focus on STEM subjects. The DA’s manifesto proposals emphasise elevating literacy rates, significantly improving the number of learners who can read for meaning, building quality infrastructure schools, exploring alternative building models, ensuring 210 full teaching days, improving access to Grade R, and enhancing STEM education.

The DA remains dedicated to protecting mother tongue education, lowering school dropout rates, and ensuring teachers are adequately trained. It has become critical that we head to the polls on the 29th of May and vote for a party that can save our learners from a failing education system.