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Tuesday, 23 April, 2002

World Book Day

Statement by André Gaum, Western Cape Education Minister

Today World Book Day is celebrated, and this is a good moment for us to call to mind, acknowledge and honour all that we owe to books and reading. Reading is, after all, not just a mechanical skill: it is an avenue to interest, enjoyment, knowledge, enlightenment and inward enrichment of every kind. It transforms, liberates and empowers us as nothing else can.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) is committed to helping every one of our children find the way to the world of treasures that the love of reading can open up. To this end the Department is engaged in a special reading development initiative this year, over and above the sterling ongoing efforts of our multitudes of teachers who work day in and day out to further literacy and language.

The highly successful primary-school reading programme which we began two years ago is being extended this year to high schools. It starts this term as a pilot project with all the schools in the Learning Schools programme (the underperforming high schools to which we devote special supportive attention), together with all other high schools which would like to participate.

There will be a special focus on the schools in the Learning Schools programme, which will receive intensive special reading and literacy development support from the WCED together with a supply of suitable donated reading materials.

On International Literacy Day in September the WCED’s High School Reading Support programme will be officially launched. Our goal is that by the start of 2003, not just our primary schools but all our schools will be Reading Schools.

I plan also to involve role models from public life in campaigns to spread the message in all communities about the importance of reading.

The ability to read, understand and enjoy a book is a precious gift. We owe it to every growing mind to pass this gift on and thus make ever wider the circle of all who come to experience its benefits and blessings.

Issued by:
The Communications Directorate
Western Cape Education Department
Private Bag X9114
Cape Town 8000
Tel: (021) 467-2531
Fax: (021) 467-2363
Email: pattwell@pawc.wcape.gov.za
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