SUNConferences, LIASA 2013

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First words in print: libraries and civil society engagement
Anita Shaw

Last modified: 2014-01-25


This paper presented is part of the larger study to determine the impact of the First Words in Print(FWIP) project since its inception in 2002 to its ending in 2009 and the extent to which theproject achieved its aims. This paper examines the role of libraries and civil society engagementin the project, with Ottery Library as an example. Fieldwork was done among a sample ofchildren in Ottery in the Western Cape, to examine whether the project had a positive impactamong them in terms of literacy, reading habits and educational performance.The project has its roots in civil society engagement. In 2000 CFB, in partnership with theNordic Council of Ministers, hosted a workshop to discuss the urgent need in South Africa forchildren between the ages of 0 and 5 to be given access to books. Delegates includedrepresentatives from various organisations involved in books, literacy and early childhoodeducation. At this workshop a consensus was reached on the importance of placing booksdirectly in the hands of children aged 0 to 5 years, to stimulate their interest in books and todevelop in children and their families a sense of books as objects of pleasure and entertainmentthat could be used and shared in many different ways in the home, rather than simply sources ofinformation and formal learning in school. The workshop delegates resolved to initiate the FWIPproject [FWIP (Draft, working copy) undated].