Overjoyed at their unexpected success, the ten young pupils who make up Nkanyezi Primary School’s first-ever reading club, Siyafunda, happily accepted the shield announcing their first-place win at the Story Powered Schools interschool-reading-club competition at the Ekuvukeni Community Hall in Uthukela. Competing against reading clubs from across 12 other primary schools in the second and final round, adjudicators said the level of competition was unexpectedly high, given that this is the first year the contest has been run. “The confidence in the children and the passion in their teachers shows a lot of what is happening back at the schools. This is remarkable and certainly not what we were expecting,” commented Nontobeko Dlamini, a development practitioner and member of the Uthukela District Municipality. Not only were the clubs scored on their dedication to reading, writing and storytelling over the year, they were asked to put together displays of their creative work including examples of their writing and drawing; favourite isiZulu and English books; and give literacy-related performances to demonstrate their typical reading-club activities too. Said Miss Hlatshwayo, a teacher at Nkanyezi Primary School and leader of the winning club: “We did not expect to win! We started the clubs in earlier in the year – it was our first one and it has been a group effort between myself, my colleagues and the community members that support us. But, really, it has been the children who have turned reading into a lifestyle. Their thirst for reading and stories in unstoppable!” Established by the national Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign’s school’s project, Story Powered Schools, to help root a culture of reading for joy in rural primary schools, the contest is also being run in Ugu, and in Mbizana and Maluti in the Eastern Cape. Research has shown a direct link between reading for pleasure and children’s school success with children who read on a . . .
This Women’s Month, Nal’ibali – the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, has joined forces with young author and activist, Buhle Ngaba, to bring the power of stories to girls across the country. Buhle’s acclaimed children’s book, The Girl Without a Sound, is a moving story about the importance of hearing the stories and voices of girls and comes at a time in South Africa when the stories of women need to be heard. Originally available in English and Ngaba’s home language, Setswana, the Nal’ibali campaign has translated the story into SA’s two most widely spoken languages: isiXhosa and isiZulu, and is making it freely available for download from its web- and mobisites, www.nalibali.org and www.nalibali.mobi, for the month of August. “It means a lot to me to have done this in collaboration with Nal’ibali,” says Ngaba. “It started off as me writing a story about how I felt voiceless as a little girl but, as I shared the story with others, I was overwhelmed by their support as they recognised the same feelings within themselves. I began to realise and see the need to make space for the voices of girls and women to be heard and I hope that more writers and creators will join me!” Literacy is a powerful tool for upliftment and, when children are presented with books and stories that they can identify with, they can quickly grow to love reading. In the process, they discover a world of possibility that extends beyond their current circumstances and which offers them choices and opportunity for an independent future. Launching the month-long sharing of her story with the campaign, Ngaba gave a special reading to young girls at the Seaview Primary in Mitchell’s Plain – a Nal’ibali supported township school. Impressing on the young pupils the need to let their voices be heard and to dream big, Ngaba gave each girl a piece of paper and encouraged them to draw a picture of their dreams after the reading out loud session. Further supporting Ngaba in her drive . . .
Shining a light on literacy issues in Limpopo and what ordinary citizens can do to overcome them, Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, is hosting a public imbizo in Seshego, Polokwane, through its activist arm, FUNda Leader. Taking place on June 10 ahead of Youth Day, the imbizo will address the current challenges facing the nation and the province when it comes to teaching children to read and write, and highlight the different ways ordinary citizens –especially young people – can support the development of the next generation. Three FUNda Leaders members operating in the province will be profiled. Key to the FUNda Leader movement is the understanding that literacy change in South Africa is something that anyone and everyone can – and should - be involved in. Says Righardt le Roux, Nal’ibali’s Limpopo Support Coordinator: “Being a FUNda Leader equips young people to understand the current literacy crisis in South Africa and to respond to it through social participation.” Launched mid-2016 and now a network of over 2 500 activists nationwide, the FUNda Leader movement provides specialised training and support for everyday South Africans who want to stand up for literacy in their communities, and emphasises the important role that young people can play simply by acting as reading role models, and reading and sharing stories with children in their home languages. Sharing stories with children in relaxed and engaging ways, and in languages they understand, motivates them to learn to read and write. Followed by their teachers, research has shown that the most prominent reading role models young children have are their parents, but all not children in South Africa have guardians who are available or able to spend time reading and sharing stories with them. Neither do the staff at South Africa’s many under-resourced schools, who lack the capacity to engage with their pupils individually. This is particularly true for Limpopo schools and there . . .
To mark World Book Day on 23 April, Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, is giving away books to the value of R250 000. A specially curated list of titles of different South African authors and languages, these books will be gifted to the campaign’s literacy development partners, reaching 20 000 children across South Africa. Nal’ibali is calling on the support of the public to help increase the number of books per child by donating new or gently used books, at special readings taking place on Friday, 21 April. Nal’ibali has been supporting a growing movement of South African children and caregivers who enjoy reading and sharing stories, since 2012. This is done by providing free access to good quality stories in English and home languages through its web- and mobisites; through its bilingual reading-for-enjoyment supplement, and on more than 11 different radio stations each week. The donation aims to celebrate the work of its partners by helping to create a print rich environment, and recognising the joy and value of reading storybooks. Handling and paging through printed storybooks, especially for children, feeds into their emotions and intellectual wellbeing. From an early age, children can fall in love with books and enjoy the sensory experience of handling them. Evidence shows that children who regularly read and hear engaging stories, in languages they understand, are well equipped and motivated to learn to read and write. “The most inspiring part of promoting a reading culture in South Africa is that many parents, caregivers and community-based organisations are already reading and telling stories to their children! Now, through this generous donation by the DG Murray Trust – an initiating and funding partner of the Nal’ibali campaign, we are able to gift the children supported by our partners with hard copies of books,” said Jade Jacobsohn, Nal’ibali Managing Director. Special handover events with more than 100 partners will be . . .
Launched mid-2016, Nal’ibali’s FUNda Leader movement is an avenue for everyday South Africans who want to stand up for literacy in their communities to receive specialised training and support from the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign. Now a network of over 2 000 activists nationwide, Nal’ibali addressed the Western Cape members of its volunteer network at an imbizo on Saturday 25 March, focussing on the simple, yet effective role that young people and community members can play as reading role models to effect literacy change in their communities. Key to the FUNda Leader movement is the understanding that literacy change in South Africa is something that anyone and everyone can be involved in. Said Pumza Ndamase, Nal’ibali Training Coordinator: “One of the most powerful ways we can develop a generation of readers is by acting as reading role models for them.” Outlining the success that fellow FUNda Leaders have had in this area, the event was also an opportunity for members to engage with one another and share their ideas as well as successes and challenges in sustaining literacy in their communities. Further inspiring them, award-winning South African author and long-time literacy activist, Sindiwe Magona, shared her personal and professional journey to success; a tale that is testament to what can be achieved with determination, courage and encouragement – despite an apparent lack of immediate resources. Magona obtained her matric certificate and Bachelor’s degree while working as a domestic worker before going on to complete her Masters, and later received an honorary doctorate from a New York arts college. Recognising the role that her own reading role models played in her achievements, she shared details on their influence. Explained Ndamase: “Being a reading role model does not require special training or knowledge, but rather a willingness to engage children and teenagers in books and stories. Reading role models demonstrate reading as . . .