Today marks the official opening of a unique library at Nageng Primary School in Vosloorus, East of Johannesburg. The structure is a first of its kind in South Africa as it’s constructed from 1 million upcycled yoghurt tubs which have been converted to lightweight bricks. The library was awarded to the school as part of NutriDay’s Tubs2Classrooms competition. This showcases Danone’s Impact Journey and the company’s commitment to leaving a positive mark in South African communities as well as diverting waste from landfill.

“The official opening of this school library is our investment in sustainability, knowing that the longevity of this structure will have a lasting impact and will be benefiting generations to come,” says Leanne Kiezer, Head of Corporate Affairs at Danone. “Having used sustainable building materials, like Envirolite bricks, we are demonstrating that upcycling solutions for plastic waste can be found. Our hope is that this library will be the first of many innovative sustainable solutions to come,” adds Kiezer. This project is a realised goal for the NutriDay Tubs2Classrooms initiative, where learners are not only educated around the importance of recycling but encouraged to contribute to the cause by bringing their yoghurt tubs to designated collection points. 

“Minister of Education, Angie Motshekga, recently stated that South African schools lack classrooms, and a staggering 70,000 more are required across the country. It will take strong partnerships with the private sector to drive this. This launch today is also proof that we can do things differently and work collaboratively to meet this challenge while protecting our planet, driving sustainability, and serving the community,” adds Kiezer. One hundred schools in Gauteng collected yoghurt tubs and industry partnerships did the rest. “It would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the outpouring of support, we have received from the inception of the project that contributed to this successful launch says Kiezer. “Imperial & Motus Community Trust turned an empty structure into a well-equipped functioning space.  Pick n Pay School Club provided the platform to educate learners about the importance of recycling.  The many donors of books, furniture and funding included Rightway Carpentry, Waltons Bidvest, Interwaste, PolyCo, Alpion, Food Safety Hub, and even the Community Group Firefighter Association who collectively helped us give the library its finishing touches.”

Imperial & Motus Community Trust is privileged to hand over its 72nd fully operational library and resource centre to Nageng Primary School. The Trust’s contribution includes over 4000 brand-new reading books, that were covered and cataloged, teaching aids, laptops, a projector, a screen, and furniture. To sustain the use of the library, the Trust has employed a full-time librarian who was recruited from the Vosloorus community.  The library assistant will manage the centre 5 days a week from 07h30 to 16h00, every alternate Saturday and most school holidays.  Children will be issued a reading card and the librarian together with the educators will work with the Department of Education to try and ensure that every child reads a book every 10 days. Compulsory reading activities will be timetabled to ensure improvement in literacy levels at the school.  

Abdul Hafiz Mohammad, Chairman and founder member of the Imperial & Motus Community Trust, says; “We are very pleased to be a part of the Danone Southern Africa’s Impact Journey and we will ensure that this school which has never had a library before becomes a beacon of learning support for the community. Instilling a love of reading at an early age is the key that unlocks the door to lifelong learning.”

Children are important agents of change and influencing good recycling habits in their families and communities is a starting point for any learning process. “We know that more goes into teaching a child, and with this library, we have gone beyond our commitment of just providing a structure. 

“In fact, when we launched the Tubs2Classrooms campaign, we only had a dream of what this could mean for South African communities but seeing the results of a collective initiative and being able to leave a great footprint in the community and on the environment, reveals the real meaning to why we do this,” concludes Kiezer.

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