Winners of “My Covid Journey” school library competition announced
In celebration of International School Library Month (ISLM) which took place during October last year, I announced a poetry competition which offered learners the chance to win R25 000 for their school to spend on library resources. I chose the theme of “My Covid Journey” in acknowledgement of the profound impact that the pandemic has had on our learners.
To guide learners in their entries, we asked them the following questions:
• How do you feel about the Covid-19 pandemic?
• How has it affected you and your school?
• How has it affected your family and friends?
• How do we move forward from here and how can your school library help?

Each school was able to collate as many poems from the learners at their school as they liked, to form a single entry for submission. We received entries from 85 schools, spanning all eight education districts and three languages, exploring themes related to the pandemic – including uncertainty and anxiety, home learning, the impact of safety protocols, and resilience. As we are currently celebrating South African Library Week, I was particularly pleased to see learners indicating that books and reading had helped them cope when they felt isolated.
The entries were evaluated by the team from Education Library and Information Services (EDULIS), and the winners for each category chosen. They were selected based on their creativity, style and originality, along with relevance to the topic and grade-appropriate level of writing skills. Each of the schools will receive R25 000 to spend on school library resources.
I am delighted to announce the winning poets and their schools:
Afrikaans:
• Primary: Sylvia Roux – De Villiers Graaf PS (Grade 7), Villiersdorp, Overberg Education District
• Secondary: Cornel van Rensburg – President HS (Grade 12), Vrijzee, Metro North Education District

English:
• Primary: Yusra Jones – Belmor PS (Grade 7), Hanover Park, Metro Central Education District
• Secondary: Divine Ndaya – Hottentots Holland HS (Grade 11), Somerset West, Metro East Education District

Xhosa:
• Primary: Siphokuhle Tshapela – Dalubuhle PS (Grade 7), Franschhoek, Cape Winelands Education District
• Secondary: Lindile Shasha – Oscar Mpetha HS (Grade 11), Nyanga, Metro South Education District

(Note: Learner grades are for the 2021 academic year.)
I congratulate the winners and their schools on this achievement, and look forward to seeing how the prize money will benefit their schools. I also thank all of the principals and teachers who arranged entries from their respective schools, and hope to receive even greater numbers of entries in future competitions.
Most importantly, I thank the learners who chose to share their experiences of the pandemic. It can be really tough to speak about what we are going through, especially when the education sector has taken such strain over the past two years. I am proud of their willingness to share their stories with us and hope that it has been emotionally beneficial for them to do so!

Source: Government of South Africa

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