WATCH | The non-digital divide

Leveling the playing field, one book at a time

05 December 2018 - 07:00
By staff reporter

Thanduxolo Mkhoyi says the numbers don’t read well - children in Khayelitsha are exposed to thirty-two million less words than children from middle-class families.

Now, Mkhoyi, a literacy trainer who is passionate about literacy development in disadvantaged communities and who grew up without any books, is dedicating his life to leveling the playing field, one book at a time.

When he was a boy, Mkhoyi’s parents used to tell him stories and through this his love for reading grew.

“Currently, we have a literacy crisis, especially in a township like Khayelitsha, where children who are born into this community are only exposed to eleven million words in their early years, less than children who are born into a middle-class family in a suburb like Rondebosch, who are exposed to forty-three million words.

"This is not acceptable. Hence, we decided to start Eyentsatshane. Our service satisfies the need for early literacy development activities, storytelling and reading club activities that are relevant, available and easily accessible for developmental literacy. We have volunteers who work with all the libraries in Khayelitsha and visit ECD centres to do the read aloud training with practitioners on how to bring stories to life.

“Children who continue to hear more words develop a larger vocabulary and as a result, they read better, as they understand, and understanding is key to learning. We also work with different partners like Book Dash, who donated books for our Nelson Mandela walk, and Nal'ibali. They support us with content and their bilingual supplements.

"Kulani Library is another one of our partners that we have been working with since day one, among other libraries. We want to transform each home and ECD centre to be a revolutionary space for children to learn.”  

For the future, Mkhoyi plans on running a successful literacy organisation that will ensure that every child in Khayelitsha has lots of books to read, in a language that they understand, and that the children develop positively from the literacy activities.

“I am currently busy with my company Double Keys Productions, which does events, promotions and marketing. It is a business that invests money back into Eyentsatshane.”

This article was published in partnership with ACTIVATE!, a network of young leaders equipped to drive change for the public across South Africa.

Video produced by Content Lounge.