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Trolley libraries make reading accessible and popular across SA

Reading made easy.

The AVBOB Road To Literacy trolley library initiative has teamed up with Oxford University Press Southern Africa (OUPSA) to make books more accessible to children, particularly in their native languages.

On June 13, at the AVBOB offices in Irene Link, Centurion, Carl van der Riet, CEO of AVBOB, and Karen Simpson, managing director of OUPSA, revealed the 500 trolley libraries’ beneficiaries.

“The approximately 7 000 nominations received this year presented a challenge to our adjudicators, as selecting outstanding motives from the ‘best’ could not have been an easy process,” said Van der Riet.

In his address, Van der Riet, said: “The skills of literacy and numeracy are not only fundamental human rights but also a means in pursuit of other human rights. They are the foundation for achieving education and the broader goal of reducing poverty.”

The 2024 national AVBOB Road To Literacy campaign had a mother-tongue focus and included books in all eleven written official languages. This public-nomination effort aims to make reading and numeracy books available to learners in primary school, particularly those from underprivileged schools.

According to research, children who learn to read in their mother tongue are more likely to attend and succeed in school (Kosonen, 2005).

Each trolley library contains 500 books specific to the CAPS curriculum, with a total value of R65,000.

Each AVBOB Road To Literacy trolley library costs R50 000, putting the 2024 initiative’s total investment valued at R32.5m.


Karen Simpson Managaing director of OUPSA.

During 2024, they will distribute 500 trolley libraries to worthy primary schools and educational NPOs.

This is a significant increase from the 260 trolley libraries donated in 2023 and the 180 trolleys donated in 2022.

This collaborative effort between AVBOB and OUPSA underscores their support to the Department of Education by providing CAPS-aligned resources to assist learners with improved reading proficiency and understanding.

Guest speaker Gugulethu Ndebele, executive director of Oprah Winfrey Academy for Girls (OWLAG), provided insights into the importance of mother-tongue reading.


Gugulethu Ndebele executive director of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy.

She praised AVBOB’s long-standing and unwavering commitment to education and emphasised trolley libraries are only effective if integrated into other teaching activities and strategies to achieve a holistic education outcome.

“Our mission at Oxford University Press is to transform lives through learning,” said Simpson of OUPSA.

“Our goal is to positively touch millions of learners’ lives – anytime, anywhere, and we think that to achieve this, we must form relationships with organisations that share our values, like AVBOB.

Over the past three years, our partnership with AVBOB has grown, and we are incredibly proud of our support of the 2024 Road to Literacy campaign, which helps a great number of deserving schools where having access to the right literacy resources can have a significant impact on student learning.

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