According to the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (Pirls) report‚ which was released last Tuesday, almost four in five Grade 4 pupils fall below the lowest internationally recognised level of reading literacy‚ and South Africa is last out of 50 countries.
But all is not lost, Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign which was established in 2012, has been working towards addressing the literacy crisis in the country. Through informal reading clubs its approach is based on research which shows that children who read regularly and hear engaging stories in languages they understand, are better prepared and motivated to learn to read and write.
In the Free State alone, 641 citizens have signed up to play their part in children’s literacy development through Nal’ibali’s volunteer arm, the FUNda Leader network.
Another example of wide spread public support is of Nal’ibali’s annual World Read Aloud Day celebration which took place earlier in the year. Almost 10 000 children in the Free State were read aloud to by adults, caregivers and community members who answered the call to read the same story out loud to children on the same day.
In celebration of getting children to enjoy reading, a series of special children’s literacy festivals nationwide was hosted for all the young members of its reading clubs and the adults who actively guide them. The festival took place at the Mangaung Outdoor Sports Centre, where children from Nal’ibali reading clubs together with their parents enjoyed storytelling sessions, poetry, music and drama and were encouraged to keep reading over the holiday period.
Nal’ibali Managing Director, Jade Jacobsohn, said that getting South African children to enjoy reading is about more than picking up a book and paging through it. “Nal’ibali is uniquely positioned to be the leading campaign to unite and steer the collaborative efforts and resources of civil and political society in ensuring that every child in South Africa has an opportunity to fall in love with books,” he said.
“Imagination, excitement and creativity have been sparked in the minds of future South African adults throughout the year and we are looking forward to the new year where we will continue reading for enjoyment,” concluded Tholisa Matheza, Nal’ibali programmes manager.