The Liyabona Library

at Holy Cross Primary School



The Otto Foundation has partnered with Holy Cross RC Primary School in District Six, Cape Town, to build a new library for the school. The first library we built for the school last year, in collaboration with library NGO The Bookery and child-centred design studio SeeSawDo, burnt down in a fire at the school in February 2019. 


We are working with the same partners (as well as some new ones!) to rebuild the Liyabona Library. We are setting up a compact multi-functional library, e-learning, aftercare and meeting space for 520 learners, to replace a number of crucial facilities that were lost in the fire.


We have established a basic functional library infrastructure in a new space at the school and have added design features with support from EO Cape Town, MySchool, the Kamvalethu Foundation, the MAID Foundation and the Jannie Mouton Foundation.


We have have appointed two full time library assistants (co-funded by the Otto Foundation and the Kamvalethu Foundation). These ladies are presenting reading/ library lessons to all Holy Cross learners once a week and are initiating a range of literacy and learning initiatives. 

We are currently raising funds to finance the operational expenses of the Liyabona Library, and to enable us to activate the library with activities and events that will promote a culture of reading at Holy Cross Primary School. 



South Africa is facing a literacy crisis - and its primary school children are at the coalface. International benchmark studies show that four out of five South African Grade 4s can't understand what they read. Unfortunately the Holy Cross Primary literacy stats reflect these realities, and we are determined to do something about it.  


How? Research from Equal Education shows that only 8% of South African schools have functional school libraries. Yet we know from international research that reading for pleasure outweighs the impact of socio-economic background on pupils’ success at school, and that reading stories or novels outside of school - reading for pleasure - correlates with higher scores in reading assessments.

To promote reading for enjoyment, children need access to books, and they have to be drawn into reading through culturally and contextually appropriate books on a diversity of themes and topics. 

Well-managed school libraries can be a cornerstone for the promotion of reading for enjoyment in schools. 


How can you help us


  • Authors - get in touch to come and read your books to our learners, or to launch your new book in our library.

  • Publishers - let us know about new books that we could add to our catalogue. We are always looking for local titles to purchase.  

  • Other schools - visit us at the Liyabona Library, or bring your older learners to come and read to our Foundation Phase classes. 

  • #WC Reading Champions and Inspiration partners - please share your ideas on how to promote a culture of reading, or visit our library to brainstorm ideas with our team.

  • All friends of Holy Cross or the Liyabona Library - reach out to us if you are able to co-ordinate a book donation drive or other fundraiser on our behalf. 

  • Literacy organisations - contact us to use the Liyabona Library as a venue for your next gathering or training session. 

  • Donors - we are always looking for like-minded partners to help us finance the operational expenses of the library or to fund new book purchases. 




 “The future of South Africa rests in the hands of our youth. We must support them, in every way we can,

to imagine a future with infinite possibilities, and equip them with the skills that they will need to build that future”.
 - Chris Otto -