A brand-new library and resource centre - the seventh in Hyundai Automotive South Africa's corporate investment programme - was handed over this week at a festive ceremony to the Libra Primary School in Lenasia in the south of Johannesburg.
The learners and staff of Libra Primary attended the ceremony in the school hall on Wednesday 18 September, with entertainment by the school choir and the choir of the Imperial and Motus Community Trust, Hyundai Automotive SA's partner in the corporate investment programme.
In his acceptance address Mr Tyron Singaram, principal of Libra Primary School, emphasised the importance of books and learning: "Books and reading can change your lives forever," he said. He thanked Hyundai Automotive SA for their contribution to the education of the school's learners and the opportunities that it creates.
In her key address, Ms Yvonne Tshepo Mosadi, human resources director at Hyundai Automotive SA, encouraged the learners of Libra to make good use of the library. "A key to success in life is your ability to read. If you are determined, anything is possible. I found my treasure in education," said Mosadi.
"Today I am thankful that I took learning seriously when I was given the opportunity and I appreciate my parents even more. I am empowered by education to be talking to you today. Nothing separates me from an ordinary person than my passion for books and the desire for continuous learning. I wish you can develop that passion.
"Today you are privileged to be handed a library full of all the necessary resources to help you learn easily in a better environment - 10 000 better than what I endured to be educated. Embrace it and use it optimally," said Mosadi.
It is no coincidence that Hyundai decided to get involved with the school library programme. The dire need of quality education in South Africa, especially in less privileged communities, and the excellent example that education played in the growth of South Korea - where Hyundai cars originate from - prompted Hyundai Automotive SA to choose it as a theme and focus point for its corporate social investment programme.
"After the Second World War and the Korean War in the early 1950s, South Korea was a poor country, and one that lacked natural resources. Through relentless focus on education the country has tapped it biggest resource - human capital and resourcefulness," said Mr Niall Lynch, CEO of Hyundai Automotive SA.
"More than half a century later, South Korea is one of the leading industrial nations in the world and established, among others, the Hyundai Motor Company which is one of the biggest global car manufacturers.
"Our Korean colleagues are just as passionate about our school library programme as we are. They know how rich the fruits of such a programme can be," said Lynch.
The libraries established by Hyundai Automotive SA and the Imperial and Motus Community Trust are fully staffed and managed by the Trust to ensure that the programmes introduced for the benefit of learners achieve the desired results. While literacy levels remain low at many South African government schools, it has shown a marked improvement at Hyundai and Imperial and Motus Community Trust partner schools.
The library serves as a place where learners can study or complete projects in a comfortable environment. Learners waiting for their transport at the end of the day use the library as a place to occupy themselves safely until their transport arrives to take them home.
The library assistants - many of whom have been unemployed for a number of years - are still recruited from communities surrounding the schools. Before library assistants are employed, they undergo a rigorous reading and writing skills test to ensure they will cope with the demands of the work. Once appointed, they are given in service training on how to teach reading to little children. They also attend a computer training and first aid course.