Standard Bank makes an investment in literacy with Nal'ibali

22 September 2020 - 13:29
By nal'ibali AND Nal'ibali
Young members of Nal’ibali's children's reading group.
Image: Supplied Young members of Nal’ibali's children's reading group.

Standard Bank has partnered with the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign to launch a special Covid-19 relief project aimed at helping select communities in Gauteng and Limpopo to navigate and alleviate the disruptions to the 2020 school year and beyond, through the power of stories.

While the pandemic has presented major challenges for most families, the partners have chosen to see the opportunity in the crisis and have been helping families in 14 different communities in Gauteng and Limpopo to establish new daily routines that support their children’s literacy and school learning, right from home.

“Reading underpins all school learning and the reality is that most children in South Africa struggle to read. However, the national state of disaster and associated lockdown have meant that families have had more time to create new habits such as daily read-aloud routines,” says Yandiswa Xhakaza, Nal’ibali CEO.

“By providing them with access to stories in their mother tongue language, as well as tips on how to read and share stories with children of different ages, we’ve been helping caregivers to tap into their innate ability to build their children’s literacy and language skills.”

A network of 10 specially trained Nal’ibali literacy experts have been supporting 120 families in the two provinces; sharing different locally contextualised children’s stories and offering support with the school curriculum through interactive WhatsApp groups for caregivers. The Nal’ibali team have also been facilitating the safe return to school for some pupils with health and safety guidance.

Recognising the power of investing in SA’s youth to change the trajectory of the country, Standard Bank is committed to nurturing a love of reading among South African children. The partnership with Nal’ibali forms part of a long-term strategy aimed at reducing illiteracy which is the first step in helping young South Africans turn their dreams into a reality and realising that whatever they want in life can be.

“A fully literate nation could boost the size of our GDP by 25%. When children can read, they are more likely to finish school, get a decent job, lift their family out of poverty and grow our economy. Investing in our children and their literacy learning makes sense – and contributes greatly to the social, economic and environmental impact we make,” says Pearl Phoolo, CSI Education Projects Manager at Standard Bank.

To date Standard Bank has invested more than R17m into literacy and youth empowerment projects and, starting this September, or Literacy and Heritage month, it is encouraging its staff members to become literacy activists too. Standard Bank employees have been given the opportunity to join the bank’s project with Nal’ibali and are encouraged to begin nurturing a love of reading with the children in their own lives by becoming reading role models and reading with their children daily.

Storyteller Sindiwe Magona.
Image: Supplied Storyteller Sindiwe Magona.

To inspire them, and showcase the power of stories, ­­Standard Bank has invited veteran storyteller, Sindiwe Magona, to share one of her modern-day retellings of a traditional African story ahead of Heritage Day on September 24.

Storytelling is a forerunner for children’s literacy learning in all languages and forms part of our national heritage. Many of our traditional stories, historically told by grandparents around fires, feature characters such as the jackal and the hare, wise old men, and greedy giants.

Starting with different phrases such as once upon a time, kwathi ke kaloku ngantsomi or kwasuka sukela; these stories have been passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth and are in danger of being lost.

This special retelling will be broadcast on Nal’ibali’s Facebook page on Heritage Day for members of the public to enjoy too.

For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, or to access children’s stories in a range of SA languages, visit, or send the word ‘stories’ to 060 044 2254. You can also find Nal’ibali on Facebook and Twitter: @nalibaliSA.