Library project launched

2016-04-06 06:00
THE deputy minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Rejoice Mabudafhasi, and the Fezile Dabi District mayor, Mongi Ntwanambi, launched the R120 million Mzanzi Libraries Online Project in the Free State last Thursday (31/03). Photo: Selloane Khalane

THE deputy minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Rejoice Mabudafhasi, and the Fezile Dabi District mayor, Mongi Ntwanambi, launched the R120 million Mzanzi Libraries Online Project in the Free State last Thursday (31/03). Photo: Selloane Khalane

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THE deputy minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Rejoice Mabudafhasi, launched the R120 million Mzanzi Libraries Online Project in the Free State last Thursday (31/03).

The multimillion rand project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Its main objective is to give more people access to the internet and invest in the future of South Africa.

Hosted by the Letsemeng Local Municipality, the launch was held in Petrusburg, where the minister also officially opened the Bolokanang Public Library – making access to the internet a reality for the local community.

The library was built at a cost of approximately R15 million, according to the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture. Funding is from the Community Library Conditional Grant.

According to the deputy minister, the grant was allocated to the provincial departments to transform and upgrade public library services in the country.

The state-of-the-art library, which boasts a fully-equipped computer lab and free internet access, will not only benefit learners, but also empower community members.

The minister said the R120 million Mzanzi Libraries Online Project would benefit 667 public libraries across the country.

Each library will receive 30 computers, tablets, printers, scanners, educational computer games and training programmes for the staff. A director at the Bill Gates Foundation, Deborah Jacobs, told media the project had been initiated 20 years ago in America.

Jacobs said the project now ran in 54 countries.

According to stats given by Jacobs, only 25 % of people in South Africa use public libraries. She said there was a need to improve the figures to ensure more people had access to the internet and consequently improved their lives.

The chief executive officer of national libraries, Rocky Ralebipi, said the national library had to ensure that every library in the country was wired.

“Communities will benefit from these services so that they are assisted in obtaining information, using the free internet access,” said Ralebipi.

“The library is the tool of government to development in the country,” she added.

Ralebipi said black communities were still getting accustomed to the use of libraries and urged communities to protect them and use its services to get themselves out of poverty-stricken situations.

Ralebipi has also urged the municipality to allocate funds for maintenance of the library and to not allow the building to turn into a white elephant.

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