Hospital stamps out illiteracy

Avril Isaacs, acting project manager with the Friends of the Children’€™s Hospital Association (FOCHA) and one of the brains behind the initiative said it would increase literacy levels among children admitted to the hospital ‘€œmost of whom are from areas where libraries are hard to reach’€.

She said the programme was not only aimed at children.

‘€œWe hope that once the children are exposed to reading at the hospital they can take it back to their families and plant the culture of reading there,’€ said Isaacs.

Isaacs said it was important for children to be stimulated during their stay in the hospital.

‘€œOur volunteers carry out programmes with the children in the mornings. But in the afternoons they (children) are mostly bored. This is why we are hoping to introduce this during that time of the day. The volunteer will wheel the library through the wards and offer the children books. When a child takes out a book it will be recorded under their name and three days later the child can hand it back to the volunteer and take another book,’€ she said.

Aims to further expand the programme in future include setting up a similar library to be used by parents of the children in the hospital.

According to Project Literacy, 4,7-million adults in South Africa are completely illiterate as a result of not going to school.

 Isaacs said it was a traumatic time for the parents but the hospital tried to help reduce the stress by keeping them engaged.

The hospital already runs projects aimed at educating parents on numerous issues including understanding their children’€™s ailments as well as art and craft skills development in jewellery-making, scrapbooking and beading.

During the launch children were encouraged to read from their favourite books.

Michelle Shargey, acting principal at the hospital’€™s school said the school helped the children continue with their curriculum during hospitalisation.

She said while the school has a library open to the children, they could only access the books while the teacher was with them. The library on wheels would ‘€œenable the children to continue with their reading even when the teachers are not there’€.  

Isaacs urged the community to come forward and donate books to boost the library’€™s capacity.

For information about the library including how to donate a book please contact Avril Isaacs on 021 658 5243 or e-mail:


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