Se­cret to school suc­cess

Grocott's Mail - - BACK TO SCHOOL - STAFF RE­PORTER

Chil­dren who read for plea­sure are usu­ally more suc­cess­ful at school, ac­cord­ing to na­tional read­ing-for-en­joy­ment cam­paign Nal'ibali.

To power Eastern Cape and KZN schools, Nal’ibali has part­nered with the United States Agency for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment (USAID) to bring the cam­paign’s proven ap­proach to lit­er­acy de­vel­op­ment to se­lect ru­ral schools in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal prov­inces.

Fo­cus­ing on nur­tur­ing a love of read­ing for joy in English and home lan­guages to spark chil­dren’s po­ten­tial and un­lock their school learn­ing, the schools’ ini­tia­tive, ti­tled: ‘Story Pow­ered Schools: A South African Read­ing Revo­lu­tion’, is launch­ing with the new school year this Jan­uary.

The Nal’ibali cam­paign is built on the sim­ple logic that a well-es­tab­lished cul­ture of read­ing can be a real gamechanger for ed­u­ca­tion in South Africa.

“In­deed, re­search has shown a di­rect link be­tween read­ing for plea­sure and chil­dren’s school suc­cess. We’ve seen ev­i­dence of this in the 1 120 read­ing clubs we work with across the coun­try and are ex­cited to be putting sto­ries into the hearts of the class­rooms that need them most,” says Jade Ja­cob­sohn, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor at Nal’ibali.

In South Africa, most chil­dren are not read­ing well.

Close to one third of chil­dren lack the lit­er­acy skills needed for daily liv­ing and school learn­ing.

With most of these chil­dren liv­ing in ru­ral ar­eas, the Story Pow­ered Schools drive will not only show them new ways to ex­pe­ri­ence books and sto­ries, but demon­strate to ed­u­ca­tors how mo­ti­va­tion, con­fi­dence, writ­ing and link­ing lan­guage to chil­dren’s real-life ex­pe­ri­ences through read­ing for plea­sure, can sup­port cur­ricu­lum ob­jec­tives and in­crease chil­dren’s lit­er­acy de­vel­op­ment and school suc­cess.

Ul­ti­mately, bet­ter en­abling them to one day en­ter the work­force. En­dorsed by the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and em­bed­ded in the broader Nal’ibali cam­paign, the project will work with a to­tal of 720 pri­mary schools over a three­year pe­riod.

Through a se­ries of spe­cial train­ings, reg­u­lar site vis­its and men­tor­ship, as well as the pro­vi­sion of books, sto­ries and other lit­er­acy ma­te­ri­als in home lan­guages as well as English, school staff and com­mu­nity vol­un­teers will be sup­ported in bring­ing the com­pul­sory read­ing pe­riod and lit­er­acy time in­cluded in the cur­ricu­lum to life for chil­dren in Grade R–4 class­rooms.

Broad­en­ing the project’s reach, these adults will be fur­ther as­sisted in es­tab­lish­ing af­ter-school read­ing clubs to al­low chil­dren from other grades to en­joy read­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and reap the ben­e­fits of these too. Ad­di­tion­ally, schools and their sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties will be en­cour­aged to par­tic­i­pate in spe­cial lit­er­acy events and com­pe­ti­tions run by the Story Pow­ered Schools drive and File Photo sup­ported by Nal’ibali at na­tional and provin­cial lev­els each year.

“Nal’ibali is a grow­ing wave of adults and chil­dren join­ing in to en­joy the power and magic of sto­ries,” says Ja­cob­sohn, not­ing the sig­nif­i­cant emo­tional and so­cial ben­e­fits that read­ing and shar­ing sto­ries with chil­dren can also have. − Nal’ibali

A child is ab­sorbed in a sto­ry­book project at the Puku Story Fes­ti­val.

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