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International literacy tests, such as PIRLS show that South African primary school learners compare negatively with their peers in other parts of the world. Added to this, learners in rural schools in the country perform significantly worse than their peers who attend schools in urban areas, with the former learners also having other challenges, such as poverty and poorly resourced schools. In order to support literacy in South Africa, SAPESI and other partners initiated a project where mini-buses are converted into mobile libraries, and books are provided to schools without permanent libraries. This paper reports on research that was commissioned by the Free State Department of Education, and sponsored by the Flemish Association for Development Cooperation and Technical assistance, to appraise the work of these mobile libraries. Findings show a commitment by the staff involved to contribute to the development of marginalised learners attending rural schools.


Keywords: mobile libraries, literacy, rural schools


  • Lieve Leroy (VVOB - education for development)
  • Dr. Lynette Jacobs (University of the Free State, South Africa)
  • Ernst L.P. Stals (Free State Department of Education)