Otago Girls' High School pupils (from left) Jisu Lee,
Olivia Severins, Beth Chapman and Taryn Swete with some of
the children's books they have collected so far, to be
distributed to decile 1-5 primary schools in Dunedin. Photo
by Linda Robertson.
A school project aimed at collecting children's books and
redistributing them to low-decile Dunedin primary schools has
won a national award for four Otago Girls' High School pupils.
Jisu Lee (17), Olivia Severins (17), Beth Chapman (18) and
Taryn Swete (17) won the Otago Social Enterprise Competition
in Dunedin earlier this month and recently went on to the P3
Foundation's Social Enterprise Competition finals in
Auckland, where they won the Save the Children Award for the
Best New Zealand Social Innovation.
Jisu said their Book Buddies project was inspired by the
''surprising'' number of primary pupils coming to secondary
school who were struggling to read.
''We think the key to improving this situation is targeting
them at a younger age.''
Beth said there were a lot of children from less privileged
families where books were not as accessible, so the project
aimed to collect ''pre-loved'' children's books and give them
to children in decile 1-5 primary schools in Dunedin.
So far, the girls have collected about 50 second-hand books
from a school book drive, and hope to collect many more by
establishing donation boxes outside libraries and at other
Dunedin secondary schools.
Dunedin residents wishing to give children's books can leave
them at the Otago Girls' High School office.
It was hoped they would be able to distribute their first
books later this year.
Save the Children New Zealand chief executive Heather Hayden
described the girls' project as a ''great and carefully
She said it met the competition's requirement of using
business strategies to address one of the Millennium
Development Goals - in this case, boosting education and
''They drew on research that growing up in a bookish home is
a key factor in academic achievement,'' she said.
As part of their social enterprise awards, the girls won $500
at the Otago final and $1500 at the national final, which
they will use to help develop their project.
In the long term, they want to establish a peer reading
network for primary schools in Dunedin, where year 13 pupils
from secondary schools in the city go to primary schools and
help pupils with their reading.
Later this year, they plan to establish a club at Otago
Girls' High School that will keep the project running in
Ten teams from throughout New Zealand presented their ideas
at the finals, held at the Auckland University of Technology.
Auckland International College won the best overall project
for Car Pool to School - a secure website that can help
students and parents car pool.
The runner-up was St Margaret's College, in Christchurch, for
Educate Girls Globally - encouraging international schools to
fundraise for girls' education and partnering with Room to
Read to build a school in Nepal.