The Book Center, South Africa

The Rotary District 9300 Humanitarian Aid Centre holds racks of books carefully sorted by subject matter making it easy for the teachers to select their books. The Humanitarian Aid CentreCentre is open every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for qualified schools, libraries, and educational institutions to come and pick up as many books as they can carry.  They are encouraged to satisfy their need but not their greed. The textbooks are grouped by subject matter and library books by type of book. All of one type of book are put together to make the selection and loading of the books easy.  The books are racked on shelves or stacked on the floor.  Library books are racked separately from the textbooks.  Teachers’ materials and workbooks are separated also.

The Rotarians require the staff of each receiving facility to come and choose their own books.  The reason behind the requirement is that local individuals know the customs and culture of their communities and can choose appropriate books for their community.  This way any inappropriate material is the result of their own choosing not what Rotary provided to them.

Choosing your own curriculum is a big deal. Why is choosing your own curriculum such a big deal?    The answer lies in South Africa’s history. Under apartheid, the government set the curriculum by school.  The type of curriculum depended on the location of your school. Everyone had to learn and speak Afrikans. Much of the civil unrest in the 1970's and 1980's stemmed from a desire for self determination.  Consequently, the freedom to choose to teach in English and to choose your own curriculum are very hard fought and won victories for teachers.
True happiness is giving to others. The smiles on the faces of the teachers when we pick up books and the smiles on the faces of the teachers who pick out books in South Africa tell us about true happiness.  Through education, children can earn their way out of extreme poverty.

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