Drive to expand access to free textbooks for students, entrepreneurs in SA

JOHANNESBURG — Here’s a really interesting initiative that should receive all the support it can get. An organisation called Bookboon SA is providing access to free textbooks in the country. What’s interesting about it is that it uses an advertising model to support the costs of the free textbooks. It really looks like great out-of-the-box thinking and the type of solution that could potentially make a difference to millions of people. – Gareth van Zyl

Media release: Mandla Khumalo joins Bookboon to drive democratisation of education in SA

Mandla Khumalo, the founder of Emthonjeni Media, has joined Bookboon SA to help drive its strategy for democratising access to educational materials and making tertiary education more affordable in South Africa. Khumalo is committed to growing the local presence of the world’s largest eBook publisher and provider of free educational books, as well as to forging new partnerships with corporate South Africa.

Bookboon SA provides access to education and skills development by offering university students and entrepreneurs free textbooks in key subjects such as engineering, IT, HR, business and finance. In 2016 alone, Bookboon contributed R2billion to education and saw about 11million books downloaded in 2017 – a demonstration of the access and impact of education for many people struggling with the high costs of tuition and textbooks.

This is a cause close to Khumalo’s heart. Raised by a single mother and growing up aspiring to be a doctor, his dreams were frustrated by a lack of funding to pay for university fees and textbooks. “I know what it’s like to have a dream that you cannot realise because of financial constraints,” he says.

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“The government’s commitment to providing free higher education for poor and working-class students will help many young people achieve their ambitions. However, the high cost of textbooks remains a major barrier.  By saving university students up to R20 000 a year on textbooks, Bookboon makes quality tertiary education more accessible to all.”

Bookboon applies an advertising-supported model to subsidise the costs of textbooks and relies on corporate partners to make education affordable to the youth and entrepreneurs. Supporting this platform is a perfect way for businesses to reach a powerful market of current and future decision makers, leaders, academics, researchers and intellectuals, not to mention prospective employees and customers.

“Business has a vital role to play in equipping youth with the skills and knowledge they require to be work-ready,” says Khumalo. “Bookboon is a learning revolution, already distributing over two million eBooks in the month of May alone. We could achieve even more by bringing new corporate partners on board to support the democratisation of education.”


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