Nal’ibali encourages local children to read

Stack of books, colorful stationery and education supplies on wooden table in classroom with blackboard in background

South Africa’s reading-for-enjoyment campaign, Nal’ibali, is making use of reading and storytelling in all 11 official languages in order to support children’s literacy. This month the campaign seeks to engage youngsters in the Free State through short stories filled with captivating illustrations.

At its core, Nal’ibali works with partners and individuals nationally to set up and run a growing network of reading clubs for children. This is a relaxed and informal environment where children can enjoy books, stories and other literacy-related activities, such as songs and games, in their home languages as well as in English.

“In essence we want to get children to be able to read and write in their mother tongue by the time they reach Grade 4. So, with our reading plans, we work hand in hand with the Department of Basic Education and we set up in communities and schools,” said Nal’ibali Communications Practitioner, Siya Mahomba.

Siya Mahomba

According to Nal’ibali, studies have shown that the number of books in a home is a signifi cant predictor of children’s educational performance, even more so than parents’ education, occupation and socio-economic status. Unfortunately, very few South Africans have easy access to books. Six in every ten adults live in households where there is not a single book and just over 70% of our schools don’t have libraries.

He added that their latest campaign takes a multimedia approach where children have access to literature on online and via WhatsApp. “We have a zero rated website where children can access stories whether they have data or not. The short stories are written by South African authors and illustrated by South African artists with the aim of teaching children how to make and maintain conversation,” said Mahomba.

The local campaign was initiated by Nal’ibali on behalf of the Lesedi and Letsatsi Solar Parks based in the Northern Cape and Free State whose trusts require that their funds be spent on the betterment of the people living within a 50 km radius of each site.

“Given the unique position of these trusts as longterm investors in different communities, they have decided to implement a development strategy devised by the DG Murray Trust that begins by focusing on children, and develops with them as they grow to ensure the best possible opportunity to break the transmission of intergenerational poverty,” explained Mahomba.

Nomaqhawe Mtebele