School library a safe hub

2016-02-16 06:00
 Lauren Sherry, Keziah Van Oordt and Khanyisa Rawu are part of the 18 pupils chosen for the Youth4Change project that saw the renovation of the two libraries. PHOTO: Samantha lee

Lauren Sherry, Keziah Van Oordt and Khanyisa Rawu are part of the 18 pupils chosen for the Youth4Change project that saw the renovation of the two libraries. PHOTO: Samantha lee

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Pupils of Westridge Secondary School now have a safe, quiet place to study.

The school launched two revamped libraries, complete with books and new computers, last week.

The project was made possible through the commitment of a group of pupils who partnered with other organisations.

The group of 18 pupils sought to empower the youth in their community by upgrading their school library with much-needed technology and transforming the space into a safe haven for learning.

“I can feel the excitement in the room. I want to thank everyone for joining us to celebrate yet another achievement for our school,” said school principal Wendy Vergotine at the launch last Wednesday.

Belinda Walker, Mayco member for community projects and special planning, also congratulated the pupils at the launch.

“It is a great privilege to be here and be part of this. We have 100 public libraries in Cape Town and it isn’t nearly enough,” she said.

“Pupils come to the library to use books and computers, but most times they are looking for a quiet place to study.”

The school’s library previously had limited resources and no computers or access to the internet, making project research difficult. Identifying this, and other areas for improvement, the pupils sought to bring about a lasting change to the lives of their fellow pupils.

Walker said: “Libraries were known as the temple of the book, but it is now a space where many different things happen. We need more spaces where people can come together and turn data into information.”

The project formed part of Youth4Change, an initiative by WNS South Africa.
The company invested in the project and provided the pupils with starter capital and a group of employee volunteers to act as mentors.

Additional leadership development and guidance were provided by Khulisa Social Solutions, a non-profit organisation WNS had selected.

Although there was a partnership, the group of 18 pupils were responsible for the physical renovations and fundraising events.

Shalon Wilson, one of the pupils, says in a press release he is able to better understand how businesses operate. “I learnt about the importance of budgeting and planning towards a project. I never knew what the role of getting a quote was, until now. Our initial costing was over budget and we had to learn how to reduce the cost and set more realistic deliverables.

Yes, I am also fluent in corporate speak now,” says Wilson.

Samiley Wheatley, another pupil, proudly admits that she feels more optimistic about her future now. “I did not realise how capable I was, but now I know my strengths. I believe in myself more and feel confident to take on other challenges,” she says.
Megan Meredith, corporate social investment manager at WNS South Africa, says there are many hard realities facing the youth, which makes beating the odds increasingly difficult.

“Factors such as poverty, gangsterism and drug and alcohol abuse, compounded by poor schooling from a young age, all add to the country’s high drop-out rate,” says Meredith in the release.

“Youth and education are two inseparable elements. Thus, WNS South Africa specifically chooses to focus on the development of youth through education, especially given that this area is sorely lacking in South Africa. Through our continued efforts and investment, we hope to not only make a difference in the lives of the youth, but also provide them with sustainable opportunities to empower themselves and prosper in the future.”

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