YOUPSA blog contentTaking a creative approach to SA’s literacy crisis in rural areas, learners will enjoy a new programme and range of books to grow their love of reading.

Thanks to its new Book Buddies programme, learners can look forward to reading a great new selection of books. Teaming up with four Gamtoos Valley schools, Youth Potential SA (YOUPSA) is celebrating National Book Week with the launch of the programme, and is using MySchool funds to buy a number of English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa books to help grow readers for the future. 

The Book Buddies Programme pairs learners of different abilities and ages to read together for pleasure, two to three times a week for 15 minutes. Over time, as their interest in books grows, their literacy skills naturally improve and their relationships strengthen.


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Reading helps people understand themselves and navigate the world around them. As well as activating our imagination, reading develops our thinking processes, deepens empathy, helps us to learn problem solving, and teaches us to practice self-reflection. The more young people read for pleasure, the faster they gain the language and thinking skills they need for academic success and for their own personal development.

In rural areas like the Gamtoos Valley in the Eastern Cape, the lack of reading skills and access to books among SA youth is highly concerning. To support the countless learners who are in danger of being left behind, YOUPSA has decided to take a creative approach to this literacy crisis.

This includes training teachers and school management in literacy, popularising reading for pleasure in homes and communities, and making a wide range of reading materials available for those who are marginalised and have little access to opportunities.

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YOUPSA also offers Mobile Village Libraries (books in a bag, managed by youth librarians) and nurtures youth reading clubs. Reading for pleasure is an important and loved part of its weekly Creative Youth Empowerment Programmes with partner schools, where children always ask to do more reading together. 

None of the schools have a school library and many teachers feel ill-equipped to teach reading. To assist the community to overcome these challenges, YOUPSA is offering a Literacy Volunteer Training Programme in the Gamtoos Valley to enable more people to bring the joy of reading into communities.