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Sun International inspires children in Alexandra to read

Sun International has partnered with local non-profit organisation READ to RISE to help get children excited about reading at Carter Primary School in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg.

There is a major literacy crisis in South Africa with studies revealing that 78% of Grade 4 learners cannot read for meaning, making them functionally illiterate.

Thanks to a sponsorship by Sun International, on Tuesday 5 November 2019, 445 Grade 3 and 4 learners at Carter Primary School in Alexandra, Johannesburg benefited from the READ to RISE programme. Each child received their own brand new OAKY book, bookmark an pencil to take home.

On Thursday 28 November 2019, staff from Sun International visited Carter Primary School to hand over 21 Mini-Libraries each containing 50 brand new, age appropriate story books. Thank you to The Maslow Hotel who sponsored 13 of these Mini- Libraries. In addition to this, a further 100 new books were given to the school for their existing library. That makes a total of 1,595 brand new books for the children at the school to benefit from. 450 pencil bags were also given to the learners.

“At Sun International we believe that reading is the greatest gift a child can receive. Visual learning aids also impart knowledge but books spark imaginations and encourage children to explore new ideas and possibilities inside their own minds. Reading leads to a deeper understanding of language and by improving their vocabulary, children are better able to articulate their thoughts and emotions. We support initiatives such as READ to RISE as we believe this will lead to new generations of creative and innovative thinkers.” Says Heidi Edson, Sun International.

Earlier this year on Monday 9 September 2019, in celebration of National Book Week, staff at Sun International in Sandton volunteered their time to cover books in plastic and decorated bookmarks for the learners at Carter Primary School.

READ to RISE promotes youth literacy in under-resourced communities in South Africa. The organisation hopes to inspire children to read with a fun, interactive classroom programme and gives each learner a new book to take home. “We believe that book ownership can ignite a love for reading and work in communities like Alexandra where most children have never owned a book before. We believe that children who read, will excel at school and go on to become constructive members of society.” says Executive Director, Taryn Lock. “We believe that children need to read to ‘rise’ despite their circumstances. In Alexandra, children face many challenges including high levels of poverty. We explain the importance of reading and encourage children to read and go to the libraries.”

READ to RISE currently offers inspirational class programmes for learners in the foundational phase. To date, they have conducted programmes in over 3,300 classes and given out over 170,000 new story books to learners in communities such as Mitchells Plain (CT), Soweto (JHB) and Makhado (Limpopo).

The organisation uses the OAKY Series of children’s books for their programmes. The books are written by award-winning South African poet Athol Williams. There are currently six books in the series. Each story has a positive life lesson which will hopefully inspire these learners to lead greater lives.

During 2019, READ to RISE worked with 30 public primary schools in Soweto and 45 public primary schools in Mitchells Plain. Carter Primary School is the first school in Alexandra that they have worked with, thanks to their collaboration with Sun International.

Being a non-profit organisation, READ TO RISE relies heavily on sponsorships from individuals, trusts and corporates in order to conduct their programmes. “We are grateful to sponsors like Sun International for their wonderful support in assisting us to promote youth literacy in the communities that need it the most.” says Lock.

For more information or if you would like to assist READ to RISE in promoting youth literacy, please visit or email

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