To further its literacy initiative, Konica Minolta South Africa has introduced the bizbook corner concept and has introduced it to Joshua Naude Primary School in Roodepoort, Unified Public School in Maraisburg, and Horizon View Primary School in Roodepoort.

Two of these three schools had areas that could be used for the bizbook corner, so the first step was the major clean-up, renovation and painting of the spaces. Horizon View Primary did not have a usable space, so Konica Minolta South Africa erected a wendy house in the junior phase playground. Upon completion, each bizbook corner was officially handed over to the schools’ administrators to manage, while staff of Konica Minolta South Africa was on hand to read stories to the children.

Once the dedicated areas were serviceable, we were then able to make a start on the fun phase of the corners’ development: putting books on the shelves; posters on the walls; unpacking the additional CDs, DVDs, paint and puzzles; and furnishing the corners with tables, chairs, carpets and pillows; basically everything needed to help stimulate the mind of a growing child, said Laetitia Coetzer, special projects manager at Konica Minolta South Africa.

Last year, the company converted a light commercial vehicle into a mobile library, providing children who did not have access to books in their schools and communities with the opportunity to improve their literacy skills.  

The fully kitted out Mercedes-Benz Sprinter was entrusted to The Edu-Care Foundation, a non-profit organisation that through its R.E.A.D. (respect, education, attitude and discipline) initiative, assists children in the foundation phase to improve their reading ability – a necessary tool to function in society, nourish problem solving as well as the imagination, and ultimately find a good job.

The mobile library services the Gauteng area, ranging from the West Rand to the East Rand and even a school in Hammanskraal, said Coetzer. But it did not stop there. After this successful initiative we were inundated with requests from schools lacking a functional library, or with no library at all.

She added that international research indicates that one way to improve literacy and the overall academic performance of learners is for every school to have a well-stocked library. Only eight percent of schools in South Africa have a functional library, with just one library costing R2.5 million to set up, which neither schools nor the Educational Department have the money to set up.

We knew we had to do more, so we engaged in discussions again with Daleen Havenga, founder of The Edu-Care Foundation. Together we came up with the idea of reintroducing the age-old concept of reading corners, specifically designed for ground phase learners, as this is where reading abilities are being born.  We wanted to establish a special space, away from the normal classroom environment, where the children could sit or lie down on carpets and pillows and listen to a story being told, or to simply leaf through the pages of a book, looking at pictures and ultimately give them the ability to read, explained Coetzer.

We then created a logo to help entice children to read – using our bizhub colours with a wise inquisitive looking owl –and our bizbook corners were born. 

The bizbook corners are a natural progression from the use of the mobile library. Currently the mobile library services grade four to grade seven, but the grade R to grade three learners are still learning how to read, and need special attention and books, hence the evolution of bizbook corners, said Havenga.  We are delighted that Konica Minolta South Africa is dedicated to finding solutions to South Africa’s literacy problem.