Today’s Solutions: May 22, 2022

Beulah Thumbadoo believes a simple solution can help her country’s complicated problems: reading more books.

Tijn Touber | June 2004 issue
WHO? Beulah Thumbadoo WHAT? ERA, Everyone’s Reading in Africa WHERE? South Africa WHEN? 1991 WHY? A country can only develop when books are widely available
Beulah Thumbadoo cannot imagine a life without books. At her parents’ house they were piled up on the stairs. She finds it distressing that 90% of her fellow South Africans can’t read books because they are illiterate, or don’t want to read books because they’re not much interested.
Besides missing out on one of life’s pleasures, according to Thumbadoo, non-readers miss access to vital information in such areas as hygiene and health measures. Thumbadoo believes that reading is the key to national development and individual growth. That’s why she founded Easy Reading for Adults (ERA) in 1991 – later renamed Everyone’s Reading in Africa – to create more of a culture of reading in her home country.
The program offers high-quality reading courses and a library on wheels, which stocks easy-to-read books for young people and adults. This package is sold to a variety of institutions, including prisons and social organisations. There is also an annual short story competition. Through Thumbadoo’s efforts, the South African government also designated “The Year of the Reader” in 2001.
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