Ashdown Primary pupils become bookwise

Safire Insurance Company and Cordwalles Boys’ Prep School in Pietermaritzburg have joined forces to inspire young readers at Ashdown Primary School, where the more than 1600 pupils come from under-privileged homes. To inspire a passion for books and reading, Safire created ‘book boxes’, brightly coloured storage boxes, which were filled with appropriate books according to the reading levels of each class by Cordwalles (a huge task, carefully undertaken by the Cordwalles librarian Sharon Smallie).

The book-filled book boxes were handed over to the children and their teachers at an event last week, when guests were given story and poetry readings, songs and recitations by children from Grade R to Grade 7. Confident and proud, learners of all ages came forward to read books such as “The Terrible Tiger” and a poem about “handling books with care”. A highlight was a rap-style recitation by Snenhlanhla Ngcobo, who wrote her own poem “Education”, wherein she commented “education is the key…that will set us free”.

Pierre Bekker, Safire Insurance CEO, said, “We’ve had a long association with Ashdown and it is a priority for us to help encourage these young learners. A love of books is important today, even when so many of us have access to the Internet, as these less advantaged children don’t have access to computers at home. In fact, they are lucky to receive one meal a day at school, which is often their only meal of the day. Reading opens the doors to all knowledge – it is so true to say that first we learn to read, then we read to learn. We chose to donate these book boxes because protecting these donated books is protecting a valuable asset – which ties in so well with our role as insurers.”

Laura-Jane Colepeper from Cordwalles, who has helped spearhead outreach projects between Ashdown, Cordwalles and Safire, added, “We want to encourage a flow of books amongst the children by making them more accessible to these pupils in their classrooms. Ashdown Primary School is the primary focus of the Cordwalles social responsibility programme, which is inspired by the belief that as a privileged school, Cordwalles has the means and motivation to make a difference in the lives and education of other learners in Pietermaritzburg.”

Ashdown Primary book box handover  ed142 jul14

Pupils with Safire CEO Pierre Bekker (centre) and teacher Mrs Hlela (in green).