The Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA) was recently honoured with the prestigious international children’s literacy accolade, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA). The ALMA is the world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature and reading promotion. This award acknowledges PRAESA for its work in promoting children’s literacy in all official languages across South Africa since 1992.
PRAESA is an independent research and development unit established in 1992 at the University of Cape Town by the late Dr Neville Alexander. A leading advocate for multilingual education in South Africa, Alexander spent ten years on Robben Island for his political activism. Under his directorship the PRAESA team advocated for the use of African languages and the growth of a reading culture across Africa, working on language planning and policy implementation and conducting research into multilingual classrooms.
Most recently, PRAESA began the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign. With seed-funding from the DG Murray Trust, Nal’ibali aims to spark all children’s potential through storytelling and reading. Launched in 2012, Nal’ibali works with partners to put in place the conditions that support the initial and ongoing literacy learning of all children. It combines a mass-media advocacy campaign highlighting the critical link between children’s love of reading and educational success, with a grassroots programme of training workshops and reading clubs.
To date, there are over 300 clubs in a growing network across the country. In addition, the campaign produces a fortnightly reading-for-enjoyment supplement with partner, Times Media. The supplement is the only bilingual resource of its kind in the country and provides children and their caregivers with regular stories and literacy tips and activities in six South African languages. Further, 30 000 copies of the supplement are delivered for free to Nal’ibali reading clubs, as well as schools, libraries and early childhood development centres every second week. The campaign also broadcasts children’s stories three times a week in all 11 official languages on public radio stations.
To learn more about the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign, have a look at www.nalíbali.org.