Since the appointment of our new General Manager, Mrs Sunitha Amod (read here), Biblionef has undergone a few notable changes that we are very excited to share with you! Below is a look at all the new and exciting improvements at Biblionef.
Biblionef’s Donation Programme
We at Biblionef are constantly striving to be a learning organization and a huge part of that includes constantly re-evaluating how we carry out our work and the impact it has on our beneficiaries.
Since our inception in 1998, we worked on the assumption that teachers knew what to do with the books once we donated it to them. What we have experienced in our 20 years is that sadly, some teachers in South Africa do not understand the crucial role storybooks can play in getting learners excited about reading. National and international research has found that merely providing teachers with books (or other resources) does not guarantee that the books will make a difference in children’s literacy development.
Since 2016, Biblionef has been investigating ways of incorporating a component of teacher training and mentorship into our work. With the help of our donors; the DG Murray Trust and the SALI Trust, we were able to carry out an 18-month project with 10 schools in Beaufort West. The results yielded from this was remarkable (Click here to read more).
This impact study now acts as the basis of our funded projects going forward – we have introduced teacher mentoring and literacy workshops alongside our book donations to ensure that the books we donate are optimally used. This is carried out through partnership with organisations or professionals who are skilled in this field.
Marlene Rousseau has acted as our trainer on all of our projects involving these workshops and teacher mentorship sessions because her skill in this area is vast. We currently have a new project running in Giyani, Limpopo using the same blueprint as the Beaufort West project. Marlene has since returned from Limpopo and has been training Rinae Sikhwari to take over the workshops and mentorships in Limpopo going forward.
As an organisation, we have realized that our strengths are in book sourcing/ selection (e.g. finding stories, commissioning the translation and publishing of stories and selecting and sourcing books) and in book distribution (e.g. storing books, covering books, packing books and posting/ couriering books). It is for this reason that we are working hard to cultivate strong partnerships with organisations who are skilled in the teaching of reading because we realise that we cannot achieve social impact alone. This is also why we have hired Marlene on a temporary basis so that she can train individuals in the field that will be able to carry out the workshops and teacher mentorship sessions if there is no organisation working in a particular area.
For our general donations programme (not linked to a donor) – we are in the process of producing training videos that our beneficiaries will be able to access on our website. We will also create a booklet with activities that teachers can use in the classroom; this booklet will be included in all of our donations going forward. Both the training videos and the booklet are in line with the CAPS curriculum and will provide the teachers with advice on how they can incorporate their donation of books into their daily lesson plans.
Taking into account South Africa’s socio-economic issues, NPCs/ NPOs are under a lot of pressure to ensure that their organisation is sustainable. For Biblionef, we too are under immense pressure to become self-sustainable because we don’t want to be solely reliant on donors whose criteria may change and who are affected by global economic trends. The need for us to carry out our mission is as critical as it has ever been with many children’s organisations relying on us for a donation of mother tongue storybooks. Considering South Africa’s current literacy crisis, mother tongue reading plays a huge part in correcting this – for us to shut our doors because we cannot secure donor funding would be an extreme disservice to our beneficiaries.
For this reason, Biblionef has launched a Social Enterprise. By using the opportunity to trade within certain parameters as an NPC, Biblionef will not only be selling books, but we will also be selling our expertise in the sourcing/ selecting/ packaging and distributing books. These services are offered to organisations, institutions, companies and individuals to ensure that their literacy projects are carried out with the greatest of ease.
Services offered by BSA
Biblionef has an extensive range of storybooks available in all indigenous languages which are suitable for children between the ages of 0-18 years. If your project requires relevant storybooks for South African children, then we will be able to assist. You can make an appointment to view our available stock or you can download the catalogue here.
Sourcing and Selecting books for projects
With over 20 years of experience in selecting appropriate storybooks for our beneficiaries, our staff are skilled in selecting books that are catered to South African children’s needs. We will be able to assist you in sourcing books for your projects. For e.g. The Beit Trust, a UK based organisation, for the last 13 years have trusted us with sourcing books for their school’s project in Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe. At the beginning of each year, our staff selects and sources over 3 000 books for their project.
Covering books in book plastic
Getting your books covered in book plastic is important, especially if the books are going to be used regularly by children. The plastic protects the books and allows it to remain in a good condition for longer, benefiting new intakes of children for years to come. If required, we will ensure that your books are covered. Our staff has provided unemployed women with training on how to cover books and whenever there is a big project that requires books to be covered, we call upon these women to do the job. We also sell book plastic in various sizes – small, medium and large.
Packaging (Will add photos as examples)
We can also package your books in various ways
Packing books into book bags/ roller boxes
Packing books into steel trunks
When purchasing books for your projects, we ensure that it gets packaged (in bubble wrap if it’s fragile or in our Biblionef boxes) and couriered to the correct location on your behalf. We work with a trusted courier who travels to the most rural areas in South Africa. We can, therefore, ensure delivery of your resources to any school/ organisation throughout the country.
Biblionef has assisted in setting up over 60 libraries across the country. This includes “Start-up” libraries as well as fully fledged school libraries.
We ensure that books are selected according to the organisation’s needs. If the organisation has an existing library, our staff will work with the librarian/ volunteer to weed through the existing books to ensure that it is relevant to its users. Our staff also ensures that the books are shelf-ready (which includes cataloguing and date stamps) and that it is functional for learners to use on a daily basis.
If you would like to know more about our services or would like to discuss how we can work together, please do not hesitate contacting our General Manager, Sunitha Amod, at firstname.lastname@example.org
With a competent team whose vision is as clear as it has ever been, we are extremely excited about Biblionef’s future. Here’s too continuing on and strengthening our legacy of getting new storybooks to children throughout South Africa!