12 Useful tips on how to use books – other than burning them

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This topic contains 1 reply, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Des Squire 7 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #6557

    sylvia hammond

    I love my country passionately and equally passionately believe in education and skills development as the major route to reduce inequality and eradicate poverty, improve communication, resolve conflict and provide a dignified life.  Books are key tools in education and training.  SA has contributed magnificently to restoring and preserving old writings in Mali. Equal education is fighting for libraries as the majority of schools have none.  There is legal action by parents to obtain books. We have millions of unemployed people. So I ask myself, what are all the things you can do with books other than burning them?

    (Remember this is plastic wrappers, thin cardboard covers, paper.)

    Use them in a school that doesn’t have books – even if some of the pages are missing – use the pages that are there – some pages are better than none.

    Give them to students of book-binding, archiving, librarians and get them to restore the books as part of their training.

    Give them to the unemployed youth to sort into complete, incomplete, totally unusable – employ unemployed trainers to provide appropriate training for the project.

    Sort our good pages of the books – create posters with the good pages to adorn school walls.

    Use the pages for art work – colouring in words, or painting over the printed words.

    Give unemployed youth the covers and turn them into folders, small storage boxes for pencils.  

    Give the books to all ECD centres to make paper aeroplanes, mobiles of cut out animals – have the children colour them in, hang them on the walls with the children’s names – with animals identified by name and colour.

    And if you can’t think of any educational use – recycle them:

    Use the paper to make compost – give them to gardeners, agricultural workers – provide training on how to use them to make compost.

    Use them to wallpaper shacks, community centres, schools, and provide training to unemployed youth on how to make wallpaper paste and to wallpaper – great for children – and illiterate adults to interact with the information.

    Teach everyone to make papier mache objects – paint and decorate and sell for an income – use national TV to provide training – screen just before one of the soapies – maybe NZH can increase their circulation (Scandal reference).

    Recycle the plastic – at the nearest recycling centre.

    Shred the paper and sell it for MONEY to the nearest recycling centre.

    Personally I think book burning should be a criminal offence – please help me – what can we do to prevent book burning?



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  • #6570

    Des Squire

    When I hard of this I felt disgusted but I was not surprised. I think the responsible person should be disciplined and made to pay for the destruction.

    It is time some form of responsibility and accountability was inculcated in all our government departments and that employees were held accountable. This is a disgrace as so much could have been done with them. 

    There needs to be a department of education policy in place related to old books and what is to happen to them. There needs to be consequences to actions taken.  

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  • #6569

    Wonderful, innovative ideas, Sylvia. I echo your sentiments in every way. 

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  • #6568

    sylvia hammond

    Well, there are consequences for Ministers – some of them have been removed/relocated.  But it cannot just be the Minister – who clearly seems to have been misinformed on a number of occasions.  So there are definitely questions to be asked.  In this case, who took the decision to destroy the school books? From the eTV pictures, some were still in their plastic wrappers.  Didn’t anyone in the department think – hold on, stop, this is not a good thing to do?  

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  • #6567

    Wonderful ideas Sylvia.

    It is an absolute shame that we keep books tha we will not read again, when there opportunities for others to learn and earn.

    Thank you.

    Perhaps one of the chain stores/ banks/ government departments will offer collection and distribution services.

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  • #6566

    Sylvia, I equally love this country and cannot understand what is happening. The 12 suggestions you have made, not only make perfect sense in so many ways, but we have a nation out there literally hungry for knowledge from whichever source they can get it…. What do we do….? Burn, chop up books and dispose of them in ways that will not help anyone, whilst also causing severe air pollution with the amount of smoke into the atmosphere. 

    Like Des, I am horrified and disgusted, but perhaps shouldn’t be surprised. DESTROY the evidence that there were once books available, Continue to blame everything on the National Government intervention process and proceed to continue with developing another lost generation of learners that have no hope, nor any way to make their livelihoods better.

    The whole things just churns my stomach when I see that despite the huge amounts allocated in the budget, for Education, things are worse off now than they ever were.

    Thanks again for the 12 suggestions and comments from other members.


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  • #6565


    If there is one thing that makes my heart beat faster – it is books! I think many of us have been instilled with a high regard for books as valuable, precious instruments of learning and adventure. The thought that someone could burn books is so appalling to me that I can only imagine that the perpetrator(s) have absolutely no internal sense of value for these incredible sources of information. Why do we only value things when we paid for it ourselves? Can’t we look after, respect and enjoy and protect that which is not our own, simply because they are beautiful, useful and costly to someone else? Thank you for a lovely article Syvia! 

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  • #6564

    These are great ideas but the inevitable problem of coordination and distribution arises. It would need to have the administration of say an NGO to do this, or some other privately sourced social benefit service to get them to the areas that could benefit.

    I listened to the discussion between Cape Talk and the Minister of BE this morning. No need to wonder why the text book fiasco happens. To witness the absolute shambles that took place in Limpopo one realises that we have instituted a combination of blatant ineptocracy and kleptocracy. The Limpopo Education Administrator responsible was then given a re-posting to Eastern Cape with a letter of congratulation by the Minister.

    It will need increasing private initiative to make any real changes to the education disaster.

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  • #6563

    My knowledge of recent History might be a little foggy, but during the Nazi book burnings in 1936(?) it was Bertolt Brecht (I think!) who stated that those who burn books today will burn people tomorrow…. Is it time that we heeded the same ominous warning in this country?After all, we, too, have a (very recent) history of burning people! Countless revolutions (and counter-revolutions) have shown: if you can’t destroy people’s ideas/ideals, you destroy the people behind them! Books are Mass Weapons of Ideas!

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  • #6562

    Des Cross

    Some years ago (2001) in the Eastern Cape, a teacher rushed to our education centre to report that officials were dumping science laboratory equipment and board chalk at the Ginsburg rubbush dump (not far from Steve Biko’s house).

    We rushed there to find out from the officials that they were ordered to dump all this to make space for toilet paper.

    We gathered the equipment in about 10 bakkie loads, stored it safely and reported this to the province’s premier, Nosimo Balindlela. We estimated the equipment to be worth more than R5 million.

    Nobody was ever charged for this henious crime and the equipment never found its way to any school. Just saying!


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  • #6561

    sylvia hammond

    Hi Brian, I do so agree with you that we keep books we never use.  Where I am, recently we’ve had large open containers for books in our Pick & Pay & also in the centre of our shopping mall.  Also our local (long-established) library collects every form of printed words including magazines, comics and so on, and either sells for income to purchase books, or uses the donations to stock the more recently established township library.  hey also will take stamps – I can’t remember what they use the good ones for, but I recall the damaged stamps are used by crafters to cover things like lampshades and so on. 

    Maybe check out your local libraries, they may well be doing the same.  Good time to sort out your bookshelves during the winter weekends.  

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  • #6560

    sylvia hammond

    Thank you to all for your comments – and especially Marc-Andre – what a chilling insight – and so very apt to us.  Maybe what we should do coming up to Madiba Day is to focus on books – what do you think about a skills-universe books campaign? “What did you do with your books today?”  Donate them to a school or library, or read to someone.  All your ideas and suggestions would be appreciated – what should we call the initiative? How can we promote it?

    On the aspects of recycling – please see my direct response to Brian, but also where I am we have recycling organised by the City of Cape Town.  Granted our valley is known for the alternative lifestyle of its residents, but it’s been incredibly successful and obviously is lucrative for the provider and does provide employment for the drivers, collectors, recyclers.  We put all paper, cardboard, fabric, washed tins and glass and so on into a large plastic (also recycled) bag.  We put the bag out with the bin.  One vehicle empties the bin and another comes around, takes the full bags and leaves new empty bags.  I now have less than a plastic shopping bag in my bin and at least one and some two plastic bags of recycling.

    I think the problem is with management – we adopt Western methods (and all the lean technology stuff) and believe that everything must be technologically advanced and mechanised.  We have no shortage of people who need constructive activity to earn with dignity.  My opinion is that we need African solutions.  Everything can be done with manpower and good management – witness the Egyptian pyramids.  

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  • #6559

    I would suggest that we approach one of the big chain stores or supermarkets to set up collection points, and distribution would have to be organised as they would have to be moved quickly, (no ideas there yet). We could also get the cooperation of our local libraries and advise township schools, etc of collection points. The collection should really be reserved for school textbooks and not for all sorts of other books. 

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  • #6558

    Ian Webster

    Our book burning is very different, and in some ways more insidious. The Nazi’s were driven by hate, and burned books with passion and determination. Eventually such hatred destroys itself.

    We burn books with indifference. So what? It’s only books, and what do children matter? Anyway, too bad, we needed the space for toilet paper.

    It’s much more difficult to oppose mediocrity and bureaucratic indifference.

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One thought on “12 Useful tips on how to use books – other than burning them

  • Colin Dovey

    Trouble is we are all talking about improving education, which requires quality teachers. The quality teachers which came from the Teachers Training Colleges have now been consigned to the scrapheap of an alien ideology and misplaced philosophy. THAT needs to be addressed……….but who has the guts, and the gumption to change it? It is no good if the people have land, if they are not schooled in a college, or whatever, on how to maximise output for a profit. It has also become a very sophisticated arena, cut throat even. 

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