New library for Orange Farm's Inhlonipho Primary

opening the libraryMapula Hlongwane (in black) and Principal Ditshwane Mogowe (red trousers), along with members of the school governing body open the library

Inhlonipho Primary pupils, and surrounding Orange Farm residents, welcomed a new school library, donated by the Johannesburg Development Agency. The library will be stocked using a Gauteng department of Education budget and from donations.

The Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) handed over a library to Inhlonipho Primary School in Orange Farm on 6 May 2014 to foster a love for reading among pupils and the surrounding community, and improve the school's facilities.

Orange Farm is a township some 45km south of the Johannesburg CBD. It is one of the newest informal settlements in South Africa; the original inhabitants were laid-off farm workers who took up residency in 1988. Inhlonipho Primary is in Extension 2 and has 961 pupils, and is also an adult education centre.

Attendants at the event included Narisha Jaggan from the Gauteng Department of Education; Mapula Hlongwane, acting chief education specialist in education operations and support for Johannesburg South; Alice Moloto, corporate social investment manager for the JDA; and Simon Motha, councillor of Ward 4 in Orange Farm.

The mood was joyful with the children singing songs of praise for the JDA and their principal, Ditshwane Mogowe. They sang: "Ntate Mogowe keyena mong wa lapa le, o le yetsa lebe le matla" which means, "Mr Mogowe is the head of this household and brings power to it."

A present before the 2014 elections

Speaking at the event Mogowe said: "I welcome each and every one of you with joy in my heart as I know that my children will now be able to improve their reading skills and the teachers will instil the love for reading in them."

He described how the JDA approached him to help the school.

"The JDA approached me and asked what they can assist the school with. I gave them a long list of what we needed and they came back and asked me to prioritise. I immediately said a library instead of a computer centre because what is the point of using computers if you can't read?"

Mogowe said that although the library was not fully stocked, books could always be donated. He added, "We also have a budget for books from the Department of Education, which we will use. This is the best present to get before the elections."

The JDA's role in Johannesburg

Alice Moloto simon  Motha smallAlice Moloto, corporate social investment manager for the JDA, and Councillor Simon MothaMoloto spoke about the JDA's role in the city and its achievements in Orange Farm.

Talking about the Ridge Walkway, launched in 2009, she said, "The JDA spearheaded the construction of the walkway in Ward 3, Orange Farm, which is in Region G, in 2009. The walkway enabled easy access for residents to social amenities, including economic and transport nodes. It has also helped to curb the number of murders and rapes that were associated with the old footpath."

She also mentioned Stratford Park, which the JDA built to improve the public environment. The JDA also distributed computers to four schools in the area.

Moloto added: "When the children leave the library they should leave it empowered and different. Today you should know that knowledge is power and will help you out of the systemic poverty you have experienced in life."

Inhlonipho Primary's committed teachers

donation for books smallThe library still needs a donation for booksMotha said he has two children at Inhlonipho Primary and would keep them there because of the teachers' and the principal's commitment.

"I'm the former chairperson of the school's governing body and it has always been our dream to have a library for the school. I was very biased when the JDA came to me and asked what they can do in our ward. I immediately said 'go ask at Inhlonipho what you can do for them'," he said to loud applause.

He concluded, saying, "The quality and seriousness of the administrators of this school makes me humbled and happy to have been associated with it."