It is a cold Free State morning and a few hundred people are seated inside the Multi Purpose Hall in Phuthaditjhaba.
The audience is made up of teachers, parents, representatives of the Education Department, ministers, community leaders and Bible Society staff.
Then, of course, there are the VIP's that no one can miss. There are some 300 of them, their faces beaming with excitement in anticipation of receiving two literacy booklets in their language, Sesotho, from the Bible Society here the official launch. They are grade R, 1 and 2 learners from various schools in Phuthaditjhaba
Several years ago, after extensive research, the Bible Society decided to develop Bible-based literacy material. The programme is based on the Do and Learn method developed by Dr Rose Botha, an educator, who graciously made it available to the Bible Society. These booklets incorporate nearly all the senses in the process of developing basic reading and writing skills. The teacher is aided in this task by the use of colourful illustrations, icons, flashcards and various activities like reading, writing, counting, drawing and singing.
Mrs Zanele Mahlungu represented the Free State Department of Education at the launch. She confirmed that these booklets, My first Bible Do and Learn Book (Bibele ya ka ya Tshebetso Le ho Ithuta Buka ya 1) and My 2nd Bible Do and Learn Book (Bibele ya ka ya ho Etsa Le ho Ithuta Buka ya 2) can definitely play a role in the education of Sesotho-speaking children. "We have perused and found them very useful and also believe they could contribute toward the holistic development of learners in the sense that they will be developing physically, emotionally and spiritually," she said. "These materials could be used as a tool to build and nurture our learners to be responsible citizens of this country," she added.
Rev Dirk Gevers, CEO of the Bible Society, is equally excited about this project. "Not only can these booklets contribute to the reading and writing skills of our children but they can also help them, to discover the Bible with its message of hope from an early age."
The material is currently available in English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa and now also in Sesotho.