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Turn the page, raise the grade

Global online literacy campaign aims to promote a culture of reading in South African homes

06 August 2019 - 12:06 By nal'ibali
Nal’ibali’s new mobile tuk-tuk at the Ikageng Library in Orlando West, Soweto.
Nal’ibali’s new mobile tuk-tuk at the Ikageng Library in Orlando West, Soweto.
Image: Daniel Born

We live in a country where 60% of households don’t have a single book. In a bid to change this, Global Citizen and Nal’ibali, a local reading-for-enjoyment campaign, have partnered in a global online literacy campaign to promote a culture of reading in South African homes.

Global Citizen is an international online community of people who wish to learn about, and action, the world’s greatest challenges. This year, there is a national focus on raising the quality of education among the country’s poorest youth. Global Citizen Africa recently launched its education campaign, #RaiseTheGrade, to apply pressure on government and corporate South Africa to act and help improve education for the country’s most vulnerable young people. 

To learn effectively, children need to be able to read confidently. Recent studies show that only one in five South African children understand what they are reading. Reading for enjoyment is key to reading competently, and this is why GC Africa approached Nal’ibali to team up with the organisation on its #TurnThePage campaign, to promote a culture of reading among the youth. The campaign will combine digital and offline activities that will celebrate literacy and showcase meaningful reading programmes for South African children. It runs until September 7.

The #TurnThePage campaign was launched at the Mall of Africa in Midrand, Johannesburg, on July 24. Global Citizen Africa, Nal’ibali and Exclusive Books shared the platform with Letshego Zulu, who launched her book, I Choose to Live: Life after Losing Gugu, on the same day. Letshego is the wife of racing driver Gugu Zulu, who lost his life three years ago trying to summit Kilimanjaro.

A pop-up library was also erected in the mall's centre court. With Exclusive Books, it will be the main book donation hub for the public. Exclusive Books will be selling children’s books for R35 and guests at the launch were invited to buy a book and donate it to the pop-up library. These books will be donated to organisations that promote a culture of reading in South Africa. The public is welcome to buy books or donate used books in good condition. They can be dropped off at the library until September 7.

In Cape Town, books can be dropped off at the Nal’ibali office in Waverly Business Park, Mowbray.

The #TurnThePage campaign and book donation drive will culminate in the final, and largest, activation on September 7 at the Mall of Africa, over the weekend of​ World Literacy Day, which is on September 8. 

The event will include reading corners, live readings, author and child-author interactions, book donation “hubs” and book signings.

Some of the books will be donated to Nal’ibali’s Story Power in Motion Programme, which consists of four mobile libraries operating in select townships in KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, the Western Cape and Gauteng.

Loaded with books, stories and other reading materials, these colourful libraries not only promote a culture of reading for joy, but increase access to children’s books for those living beyond the easy reach of a public library. They have set weekly routes and fun public literacy events. 

​Please donate a children’s book during the campaign, especially in an African language, and help #TurnThePage in South Africa. With the Department of Education, all donated books will be distributed to communities most in need of reading materials.

For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign or to access children’s stories in a range of South African languages, visit www.nalibali.org. Join the FUNda Sonke loyalty programme at www.nalibali.mobi. You can also find Nal’ibali on Facebook and Twitter.