On International Children’s Day, the 1st of June, the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign launched an initiative to motivate ordinary South Africans to become literacy champions.
In an event held at the historic Homecoming Centre in District Six, Nal’ibali shared information about the new FUNda Leader campaign, which is designed to acknowledge and inspire adults across the country to change the lives of children by sharing books and stories with them.
“Far too few children in South Africa have the opportunity to engage with books and stories in a way that is enjoyable and exciting,” said Jade Jacobsohn, Nal’ibali Managing Director. “As a consequence, there is often a lack of motivation for children to engage in reading, resulting in direct and very negative implications for future learning success.”
The FUNda Leader campaign was launched in response to the education crisis being experienced in South Africa, where 92% of schools do not have a functioning library, only one in five children will pass matric and go on to tertiary studies, and 90% of children aged seven or younger do not have reading materials in their mother tongue. A recent report from Stellenbosch University shows that 60% of South African children had not learnt to read in any language by the end of Grade 4, and that only five percent of caregivers read to their children.
Among the literacy role models, authors and volunteers who attended the launch was well-known illustrator Rico Schacherl. His characters bring life to all of Nal’ibali’s reading materials and he is best known as the artist behind Madame and Eve. Another celebrity who jumped at the opportunity to become a FUNDA Leader ambassador is equally well-known Denise Newman, an award-winning South African actress, whose career started in 1979 at the Space Theatre in Cape Town. Since then she has appeared in numerous films, television shows and theatre productions. Newman has most recently produced and crowdfunded a theatre production called “Cold Case: Revisiting Dulcie September”. Newman spoke at the event of the importance that books and stories have had in shaping her journey as a performer in popular South African films, such as Material and Disgrace.
Special mention was made at the launch of the inspirational work of Western Cape literacy role models Nosakhe Mabula from Masiphumelele, who is a library cleaner by occupation and runs a reading hour every Wednesday that helps with Early Childhood Development (ECD) and prepares learners for reading competitions. Another everyday literacy champion, Mzwandile Lugogo, lives in Site B Khayelitsha and has created and runs Imbewu Yobomi, his own literacy NGO. Imbewu Yobomi focuses on drama, poetry, reading and storytelling as a medium to keep children in constructive and safe spaces. Finally, Bulelani Futshane, a FUNda Leader from Brown’s Farms who run his own organisation called Township Roots.
The aim of the campaign is to encourage everyday South Africans to become FUNda Leaders – the volunteers who make storytelling and books part of children’s lives through sharing stories in fun and meaningful ways, and importantly in the child’s own mother tongue. FUNda Leaders will form part of a specialised Nal’ibali activist network, and receive the tailored training and support they need to create nurturing environments necessary to foster a valued culture of reading across South Africa.
“We would like to encourage all South Africans to get stuck into this very simple and deeply impactful way to help children reach their full potential. Every child deserves this opportunity, and it’s something simple that we all can help achieve,” Jacobsohn said.
Anyone can be a FUNda Leader – simply join by signing up on the Nal’ibali website. Together with fellow FUNda Leaders, you will receive the support and acknowledgement you need to help change children’s lives.