Mxit Reach is a division of Mxit, a mobile social networking platform, dedicated to free mobile educational, health care, agricultural and community applications, and has five million monthly users.
The app, which is available to anyone with a mobile handset, including non-smart feature phones, enables users to receive stories or motivational tips in a language of their choice. It also contains a story library, including audio book and literacy quizzes, and a virtual reading club section where users can share their book reviews. To encourage meaningful engagement, users can earn points and other rewards by completing stories and submitting reviews.
Carole Bloch, director of the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA), which is driving the Nal’ibali campaign, says a love of reading must be initiated at home, preferably in a child’s home language.
“Research shows that being told stories and being read to at home are the things most likely to help make children successful learners at school,” Bloch says. “Stories, particularly when read or heard in home languages, help children develop their language skills and imagination as well as their thinking and problem-solving skills. But not all South Africans have access to children’s books and stories – particularly in their mother tongue.
“What most South Africans do have, is a cellphone, with mobile penetration now over 100 percent in the country. By harnessing this tidal wave of mobile communication technology use in our country, we hope to get even more adults reading and enjoying stories with their children so it becomes part of their daily lives.”
Adults are encouraged to sign up for the app with their children, as literacy development is most successful when stories are read and enjoyed together.
“There is a tendency for parents to engage less with their children around ebooks and other forms of digital content,” Bloch says. “Language and literacy skills are best developed in the discussion and engagement that takes place when caregivers and young ones share a story together – and this includes the sharing of stories found on digital devices.”
To sign-up for the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment app download Mxit on your phone at m.mxit.com. Go to Apps > Search > Nalibali.
Image courtesy of Nal’ibali