Inspired activists out to improve youth literacy

Two young activists from Scenery Park are working hard to bring the joy of reading to young children in East London, Komani and Tsholomnqa.

Ayabulela Ngcelwane and Sinoyolo Qunguwa are part of the Yizani Sifunde (‘Come, let us read’) network of Story Sparkers.

The programme is funded by the Liberty Community Trust and together with Nal’ibali, Book Dash and Wordworks, aims to distribute books in isiXhosa to early childood development (ECD) centres.

“The training we received reawakened my love for writing,” said Qunguwa.

“Seeing how the children enjoy and benefit from stories has inspired me to finally start writing my first book.”

For Ngcelwane, one of the benefits of working with Yizani Sifunde is helping members of her community.

“My work is a double-edged sword; in addition to improving literacy, I also get to lead by example that black men can also be nurturing and play a positive role in the upbringing of children.

“I hope this encourages more men to play active roles towards the restoration of our communities,” he said.

Qunguwa said that growing up in rural Cala, she had viewed learning as something that was confined to the classroom.

“I think many people still hold that belief,” she said.

“The fact that some parents are not actively involved in their children’s literacy development is a testament to that.

“They don’t know that most children’s language and learning development takes place in the early years, that 75% of what they will know is learnt by the time they are two, and the foundation of language is laid and set before they reach Grade R.

“So, parents need to know that learning begins long before school and doesn’t stop when school is out.

“At Yizani Sifunde, we encourage a culture of reading for enjoyment between parents and their children.”

In addition to supplying books, Yizani Sifunde will also assist community members in setting up their own reading clubs so that even older learners can benefit.

Members of the public who wish to access free children’s stories in their home language can do so on the Nal’ibali website, www.nalibali.org, or by WhatApping ‘stories’ to 060-044-2254.

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