Nal’ibali awarded international reading prize

    Riyaz Patel

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    Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign has been awarded The International Joy of Reading Prize in Aarhus, Denmark.

    The judges applauded Nal’ibali for its long-term impact and influence on local communities in South Africa.

    They highlighted Nal’ibali’s framework that creates a nurturing environment, as well as generating a variety of multilingual reading materials so that children from all age groups learn to love reading in the many mother tongues spoken in South Africa.

    “Children are influenced by their parents’ focus and habits in everyday life. Nal’ibali is doing a wonderful job helping families to establish good reading habits as part of their everyday lives. Implementing storytelling and the joy of reading at home will benefit the children greatly throughout their lives,” said judge chairperson Marian Morgan-Bindon, who is also the head of the libraries in Oxfordshire County Council in the UK.

    Nal’ibali means “Here is the story” in isiXhosa – one of the 11 official languages of South Africa.

    The initiative is based on the reality that everybody has a story to tell – regardless of whether you know how to read or write. And such storytelling is the key to building a strong reading culture. and focuses on storytelling and reading as natural parts of everyday life.

    Winning the Joy of Reading Award was a welcome opportunity to reflect on the results that the many hours, long days and the good teamwork have resulted in,” explained Nal’ibali director Jade Jacobsohn, after receiving the award.

    Apartheid gave rise to widespread illiteracy

    Nal’ibali produces and distributes stories for children in different languages and enables children to participate in one of the 3700 reading clubs established in all nine of South Africa’s provinces.

    At the end of 2018, more than 140,000 children had participated in Nal’ibali reading clubs and nearly half a million books have been distributed to children and families.

    The latest study of South African children’s reading skills shows that 78% of all fourth-grade children are unable to read and understand the meaning of a text in any language. Jacobsohn says a big part of the reason lies in the legacy of the apartheid regime’s oppression of the African population, including the repression of those cultures and languages.

    Nal’ibali was chosen ahead of 28 other similar themed projects from around the world and picked up $10,000.00.

    What made the jury agree on the Na’libali project as the winner of the award?

    The jury especially liked the way this project:

    1. Focuses on the parent as a role model for reading
    2. Creates conditions for children to develop a love of reading
    3. Focuses on all ages, from babies to older high-school children
    4. Features a broad conception of material that can stimulate the joy of reading (games, songs, and oral storytelling)
    5. Recognises the power of communities to make a difference
    6. Ensures a sustained impact across a broad spectrum of contexts
    7. Focuses on the impact that the social and physical environments have on reading.






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