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Archive for the ‘Childrens Literature’ Category

“Children need to be encouraged from an early age to learn another language or languages” – a Q&A with academic and language activist, Zakeera Docrat

Nal’ibali Column 26: Term 4, 2019

By Carla Lever

Zakeera Docrat

 
Congratulations on your two recent awards – having your MA thesis voted the best in Southern Africa by the African Languages Association of Southern Africa and winning the Albertina Sisulu Doctoral Fellowship at the SA Women in Science Awards. What will this recognition mean for you personally, and for your research specialty professionally?

Thank you very much! It’s an incredibly gratifying feeling to know that my research is being recognized at the highest levels of academia and government. It also casts the national spotlight on a relatively new field of forensic linguistics – or language and the law. Including African languages in the legal system enables real justice: it’s an issue that’s finally being placed on the national stage.

Your academic work looks at how African languages are represented in the legal system. Can you tell us a little about your current research?

My PhD research focuses on language and the law, specifically looking at the language of record in South African courts. In 2017, English was made the sole language of official record, but only 9.6% of the population in South Africa speak English as their mother tongue. Language affects people’s rights in courts. If you are an African language or Afrikaans mother tongue speaker and you have no or limited linguistic competency in English, then you are solely reliant on an interpreter. In my opinion, that’s both unfair and untransformative.

How do you think it changed your worldview, to be able to communicate with a wide variety of people in their own language?

By acquiring an additional language, in turn you acquire a cultural key to navigate cultural barriers. We live in a diverse, linguistically rich country, where the majority of our people speak an African language as their mother tongue. I couldn’t imagine being unable to communicate with the majority of people in the province of my birthplace, the Eastern Cape. You’re able to see the world through someone else’s perspective, to relate to fellow citizens and be respectful and aware of their traditions.

Since 1996, courts have made translation available to anyone who needs it. Why, in your opinion, is this not enough to really ensure people are fairly represented? How can it still place defendants at a disadvantage?

All accused persons have a right to a fair trial and to be legally represented. But can a legal representative defend the accused fully when they communicate through an interpreter? In my opinion, no. When people use interpreters to give evidence, meaning is often lost or changed. If the presiding officer only speaks English there is no possibility of picking up any inaccuracies. There are also often cultural concepts and traditions that can’t be interpreted directly into English.

Are there countries in the world where legal language policies are inclusive and work well? Who can we look to as an example?

Indeed there are! We could emulate a Canadian model, which is fully bilingual with judicial officers and legal practitioners being fully bilingual. Cases are heard in either of the official languages. Although South Africa has eleven official languages as opposed to Canada’s two, there is no reason why there can’t be language policies for each province, given that there are two languages spoken by the majority in each province.

Academics are often theory-driven, but was there a practical moment or discovery that really brought home the injustice and shortcomings of a legal system that can’t accommodate people’s lived, language-based realities?

I’m actually trying to find the answer to a very practical question: how do we enable access to justice for the majority of our people who are not English mother tongue speakers? The case of State v Sikhafungana (2012) really brought home to me how difficult it can be for South Africans to navigate our legal system. It saw a Deaf complainant needing to testify about being sexually assaulted, but being at a severe disadvantage because she couldn’t understand English or communicate using South African sign language. It was heartbreaking to see how there were so many barriers to justice for her.

People often counter policy suggestions by saying expanding options will prove too expensive. In your opinion, are there incremental or simple changes that might already make a big difference, or should South African invest in a large system overhaul?

The expense argument is one that is constantly used, yet there is always money available for wasted expenditure. Language is seen as a problem rather than a right and a resource. It isn’t valued.

We can’t expect to wake up tomorrow and have the entire legal system fully functional in all eleven official languages. What can be done, though, is for universities to begin to train prospective lawyers in languages other than just English. African languages and Afrikaans should also be language of record where practical.

Of course, the legal system isn’t the only one that is failing to truly represent our country’s diverse needs. Education, healthcare, policing…do you think all these areas could benefit from drawing on the richness of our languages as resources rather than sideline them as problems?

Indeed. Miscommunication in services such as healthcare, education and the legal system can have disastrous effects. It’s sad that pupils and parents think that English is the only language that will give rise to job opportunities. The power of the mother-tongue in acquiring a sound education and learning content subjects isn’t recognized in policy. Language is also key to the decolonization and transformation of our universities, yet we continue to see an emphasis placed on what we learn rather than what language we’re learning in. There’s a real need to create awareness on the importance of language as a tool to empower and transform South Africa.

How do you think we can develop and nurture a love for, and practical engagement with, all of our country’s languages in South Africa?

It starts in the home! Children need to be encouraged from an early age to learn another language or languages. Mother tongue speakers also need to value the power and status of their language – by doing this, others will be encouraged to learn those languages too.

Reading and telling stories with your children is a powerful gift to them. It builds knowledge, language, imagination and school success! 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.


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Nal’ibali has come third in a spectacular award from the AU Innovation in Education Expo!

Via the AU Innovation in Education

[Dakar, Senegal] This Saturday 6 October, South Africa’s reading-for-enjoyment campaign, Nal’ibali, took third place at the African Union’s Innovation in Education Prize, rising ahead of six other emerging innovators from across the continent.

The announcement came during the AU Commission’s Innovating Education in Africa Exhibition in Dakar, supported by the Senegalese Government and African partner institutions.

The campaign received this recognition in large part for its bilingual reading-for-enjoyment supplement. The supplement is produced by PRAESA (Project for the Research of Alternative Education in South Africa), printed biweekly in Tiso Blackstar newspapers, The Daily Dispatch, Herald and The Sunday World.

Budding bibliophiles enjoying a supplement story with Nal’ibali literacy mentor, Thabisa Nomkhonwana.

 
It is donated and delivered directly to reading clubs, schools, libraries, and community organisations in the Nal’ibali network across South Africa, with the support of its publisher and the South African Post Office. Since 2012, 37.3 million supplements have been distributed to those who need them the most.

“We’re really honoured to receive this continent-wide recognition,” says Katie Huston, Head of Research and Innovation at Nal’ibali.

“We often assume innovation has to mean new technology, but the supplement shows that something really ‘low-tech’ can have a huge impact when it is built on sound research; when it catalyses ground-breaking partnerships between the private sector, civil society and government; and when it meets people where they are.

“We want to thank the AU for recognising the importance of innovative solutions to our continent’s education challenges. Together we can give all our children the opportunity and support they need to become lifelong readers.”

Nal’ibali’s award-winning supplement may be the answer to one of South Africa’s biggest challenges: How do we get quality, affordable reading material into our children’s hands? Reading has been shown to be the single biggest contributor to a child’s future school success, yet only 17% of South African schools have a library stocked with books, and very few homes have more than ten titles on their shelves.

“In South Africa, books are expensive and very few are printed in indigenous languages,” adds Jade Jacobsohn, Managing Director of Nal’ibali. “When schools do manage to get books, they often keep them for teachers to read in the classroom only. They’re simply too precious to risk getting damaged by children.”

Thabisa handing out Nal’ibali supplements to young story lovers.

 
Each 16-page edition of Nal’ibali’s newspaper supplement has a range of exciting and accessible literacy resources designed to get children to fall in love with reading.

This includes two to three new cut-out-and-keep story books which encourage children to feel part of the process, and provide a sense of ownership of printed reading materials. There are also ‘story active’ tips that help caregivers and educators extend the story sharing experience, as well as fun literacy related games and activities.

The supplements currently come in eight of South Africa’s 11 national languages, meaning inclusivity is central to its design. And, with the supplements printed every second week during school term time, teachers who receive the supplement report that children cannot wait for ‘story week’.

Huston explains some of the winning features that impressed the AU judges. “Not only are the supplements cost effective – they cost just R1.55 (11 US cents) per copy to develop and print – but they’re meeting children where they’re at, with quality, fun reading material in their home languages. This is important, because having a strong foundation in their first language better equips children to learn additional languages, including English, and to succeed in school.”

These innovative efforts have now been recognised by the AU, as part of a drive to meet both the Continental Education Strategy for Africa goals, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals too.

For more information about accessing Nal’ibali’s supplements, or the power of reading and storytelling, visit: www.nalibali.org and www.nalibali.mobi.


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Readathon: raising superheroes through reading, in 2018

Via READ Educational Trust

In a country of great contrasts and diversity, in which the future seems filled with uncertainty, our focus should be on empowering our young people at all costs.

What better way to do so, than with helping them discover facts about their world, and most importantly, about themselves, through that one little gift we should be passing on from generation to generation; from child to child: the gift of reading.

For nearly 40 years, READ Educational Trust has focused on promoting literacy across South Africa.

This is achieved through various programmes, with Readathon being READ’s pride and joy. In conjunction with National Literacy Month, held in September, READ is excited to unveil the fifth Readathon Red Reading Box; an invaluable tool to encourage reading amongst a broad cross-section of learners.

Each Red Reading Box has had a fascinating theme, and this year’s is no different. The ‘Finding Facts’ box is visually appealing with its ‘Superpower’ look and feel. It is designed to help children discover their special skills through a fact-finding mission which begins and ends with reading. Children are taught that reading is their superpower … it’s the key to unlocking facts about the world around them, about what interests them, and about what they are good at!

 
In the 2018 Red Reading Box you’ll find a ‘Finding Facts Magazine’ – a place to find out about our ancestors, our family, our country and our culture. The ‘Superhero Journal’ is a journey of self-discovery, and ‘Everyday Heroes’ is a book filled with stories about children similar to the readers. The ‘Finding Facts Cut-Outs’ book contain instructions for all the games in the box, as well as fun cut-outs. Games include a ‘Flags of Africa’ game, ‘Word Power Playing Cards’ and more.

A young reader taking a peek inside his Red Reading Box.

 
While we’re on the topic of facts, a heartening statistic is that 12 000 children have been reached through Red Reading Boxes over the past four years. The Pizza Hut Initiative in support of the Africa Literacy Project, distributed an additional 2 500 this past year, and READ aims to distribute 3 000 new Red Reading Boxes this year.

The launch of the Box at Boepakitso Primary School in Soweto!

 
An additional Literacy Month activity saw the new Box being launched at Boepakitso Primary School in Soweto, on Friday 7 September. Children were delighted to explore the boxes and their contents, and were even more thrilled with the donation of several Red Reading Boxes for their school.

Budding bibliophiles exploring the new 2018 Red Reading Box.

 
Educators and parents are urged to purchase a Readathon Red Reading Box for only R255. Every cent of the profits is ploughed back into promoting literacy in disadvantaged communities across South Africa.

To find out more, visit www.read.org.za or purchase your Readathon Red Reading Box directly from the READ Online Shop for R255 – https://thereadshop.co.za/. Join the conversations on:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/READEduTrust

Twitter: www.twitter.com/READEduTrust

Instagram: www.instagram.com/read_educational_trust


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Liberty Two Degrees partners with Read to Rise to inspire reading among the youth

“You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.”

Liberty Two Degrees (“L2D”) has partnered with international award-winning South African poet and social philosopher Athol Williams and Read to Rise, a non-profit organisation that promotes youth literacy in under-resourced communities, to boost literacy and creativity this National Literacy Month.

In its commitment to making a positive contribution to the communities it operates in, L2D together with Read to Rise, will roll the initiative out across its portfolio. The initial phase will commence at L2D’s superregional assets, Sandton City and Eastgate Shopping Centre, with Liberty Midlands Mall and Liberty Promenade joining the initiative in the first quarter of 2019.

While children in the foundation phase should be reading an average of 40 books a year, children in South Africa’s poorest and most under-resourced communities are reading as little as one book a year; which limits the development of their minds and imaginations.

South Africa was ranked last out of 50 countries in the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRLS) study, which tested the reading comprehension of learners in their fourth year of primary schooling. 78% of South African pupils at this level could not read for meaning, a further reflection of how South Africa is lagging behind other developing countries, when it comes to literacy.

L2D endeavours to provide more than 6000 young children an opportunity to own books, as a medium to nurture their love of reading, and ultimately improve their performance at school.
A challenge has been posed to schools to share the joy of reading with someone else.

For every reading book that learners and/or schools purchase, the same book will be donated to an underprivileged child. Sharing the importance of reading; learners, educators and parents can visit www.readtorise.co.za to order books, which will be delivered directly to the school. Schools that have bought the most books will win their share of R20 000 in gift vouchers from Sandton City and Eastgate Mall. (Terms and conditions apply).

In addition, L2D, through Sandton City and Eastgate Mall is treating 200 children on an excursion to both malls on the 26th and 27th September 2018, where they will be afforded a sensory experience in celebration of the book. A trio of South African actors will adapt and perform this piece in an entertaining and engaging way, involving the children as audience members to understand the core messaging of Oaky The Happy Tree, a feel good children’s book. Through role play, the children will be whisked away to an imaginary land, recreated by Sibusiso Mdondo, Schelaine Bennett and Taryn Louch.

Read to Rise excites children about reading and gives new books to learners in under-resourced communities. To date, the organisation has visited over 2 400 classes to conduct their programme and given out over 120 000 new books; and together with L2D, by turning the book into an interactive theatre piece, the aim is to ignite the children’s passion for books.


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Nal’ibali launches fourth Story Bosso competition with Yvonne Chaka Chaka!

Nal’ibali – the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign – kicked off National Literacy Month (celebrated in September) – with the launch of their fourth Story Bosso competition at Uncle Tom’s Community Centre in Soweto on August 31st.

In commemoration of the 30 days dedicated to encouraging a love of reading, storytelling and writing, this annual multilingual storytelling competition invites all South Africans (storytelling has no age restriction!) to enter a story of their own, with the winning entry being published as a book, and the adroit author receiving a cash prize of R 5000.

The theme of this year’s competition is none other than ‘South African hero’s’ – be it your mother or Winnie Mandela, your father or Fatima Meer, a best buddy or Bonang – Nal’ibali is interested in reading your story on that one singular South African whom you regard as a true Hero. (Yes, with a capital ‘H’ sommer!)

Schoolchildren, Nal’ibali volunteers, FUNda Leaders, Miss Soweto, and none other than UN Goodwill Ambassador and South African icon, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, were present at this joyous occasion which included improv games, singalongs, an intro to the Sustainable Development Goals (à la Ma Yvonne), and an opportunity for the children to play Nal’ibali’s inventive Hero’s board game.

Take a look at the day in pictures, courtesy of Daniel Born:

The gees was tangible during an improv storytelling game facilitated by a FUNda leader!

 

A schoolgirl having a jol as her peers cheer her on amid the improv game.

 

Singalong time! (All together now: “We are the reading club! / The Nal’ibali Reading Club!”)

 

A demonstration of Nal’ibali’s very own Hero’s board game.

 

And enter Yvonne Chaka Chaka!

 

Suffering from a bout of post-FOMO? You need only take one look at these delighted faces to imagine yourself in the crowd as Yvonne performed her iconic ‘Umqombothi’.

 

Yvonne asked two volunteers (“one boy and one girl, please”) to join her in reading the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals out loud. (And after reiterating the importance of number four – ‘help children in your community to read’ – forthrightly stated that one shouldn’t “just dala WhatsApp.” #truth!)

 

The kids were invited to try their hand at Nal’ibali’s Hero’s board game to get those creative storytelling juices a-flowing.

 

High five to heroes and storytelling!

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Exclusive Books wins BASA Award for its Pan-African Reading Room

Via Exclusive Books

 
Exclusive Books, The Market Theatre Foundation and The Coloured Cube have been announced as BASA Award winners for the Sponsorship in Kind Award for The Exclusive Books Pan African Reading Room and Pan African Reading Lounge at the Windybrow Arts Centre.

“We are delighted by this recognition of our efforts in the Pan-African literature space,” said Ben Williams, GM: Marketing for Exclusive Books. “This partnership has firmly established the Windybrow Arts Centre as a hub for the advancement of Pan-African literature and has helped bring African stories and literature to life for a wider audience.”

The 21st Annual BASA Awards, held on 16 September at the Victoria Yards, recognise and honour businesses that invest in an inclusive economy through art. Exclusive Books was one of 11 winners announced at the ceremony.

The Windybrow Arts Centre opened the doors on the Exclusive Books Pan-African Reading Lounge for adults and The Exclusive Books Pan-African Reading Room for children on Nelson Mandela Day, 18 July 2017. Over 2000 Pan-African titles are housed in the 121-year old Windybrow Heritage House, courtesy of Exclusive Books.

The Pan-African Reading Initiative, the first of its sort in the world, has also contributed enormously to the success of the advancement of Pan-African literature, Williams adds.

Exclusive Books will continue to add to this initiative, consisting of a “spectacular list of Pan-African titles from around the world”, says Williams. This includes bringing books back into print, supplying Windybrow with 400 Pan-African titles, and an “entire hemisphere” of Pan-African titles which will be added to the soon-to-be-reopened Sandton branch of Exclusive Books, Williams concludes.

The reading rooms have encouraged a reading culture among the more than 120 daily visitors to the Windybrow Arts Centre – most of whom are youths. In addition, the Centre launched a monthly book club programme for children and a series of forums for adults focusing on African authors and on the titles available in the Reading Lounge.

“We warmly congratulate each winner and thank all the finalists for their commitment to supporting and working with creative people,” said BASA Chairman André le Roux.

Heidi Brauer, Chief Marketing and Customer Officer at Hollard, a BASA sponsor, said, “In beautiful harmony with Hollard’s special partnership model, the BASA Awards really do deliver win-win-win.

“Artists benefit through having their work recognised and celebrated; corporates grow their brand and gain exposure to the creative arts; and broader society is enriched through the conversation, challenge and stimulation provided by art that may not otherwise have seen the light of day. Such partnerships enable a better future for us all.”


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“I got inspired to write for children after I had my son” – a Q&A with poet Primrose Mrwebi

Nal’ibali Column 25: Term 3, 2018

By Carla Lever

Poet Primrose Mrwebi. Picture supplied.

 
You’ve written for magazines like Fair Lady, taught young up-and-coming writers and even performed your poetry at the opening of Parliament in 2004. Do you have a favourite experience of where your storytelling has taken you?

Every experience matters! Being a magazine journalist taught me a lot about looking at the world objectively, performing in Parliament meant that the whole country was listening to my voice and my art, and teaching young people gives me a spiritual feeling of finally coming to meet the purpose of my talent.

Now it seems you’re creating opportunities for others to find their talent. You held your own self-funded poetry competition – PrimPoetry – in Khayelitsha earlier this year. What was that like?

The competition left me with sleepless nights for days. I am so inspired by the talent that exists in our communities – the language skills of those poets are exceptional.

Why do you think it’s important for people to give back to their communities when they’re able?

It’s one of the ways that we can bring positive change in our world. It also eliminates the culture of complaining too much and doing nothing! One of my mantras is “If you want something and it’s not there, start it yourself and invite like-minded people to join you.”

PrimPoetry allowed people to enter for free and to perform poems in Afrikaans, isiXhosa or English. Why do you think we need more opportunities that are open to all, regardless of income or home language?

For so many centuries a lot of people have felt excluded due to their race or class. That’s not fair. If we truly want to live in a world without exclusion, we need to begin on a journey that leads us there.

Are there any more plans for competitions that people can enter?

We had one at the Rainbow Art Organisation in Delft on Saturday the 8 of September and we will be having others in the very near future. We always do a call out on our PrimPoetry Facebook Page, so keep an eye on that if you’re interested in entering.

Can you tell us a little about the children’s book you’re working on for isiXhosa and English learners?

I got inspired to write for children after I had my son. I suddenly wanted to speak in a language that children can understand. This is a collection of stories that I think will make an impact on children today. It’s also important that I write in my mother tongue because there is clearly not many books that are written in our home languages.

What kinds of resources and opportunities do our young people need to make sure they grow up loving books and confident about telling their own stories?

Children need to have libraries close to their homes. They need their parents or siblings to take the time to read to them, to be taken to storytelling clubs, book clubs or recreational centres. People like us need to bring the skills we have to our communities so that we can create that change.

Do you have any advice or encouragement for people interested in starting a poetry or storytelling event in their own communities?

Identify people that have interest in poetry and start a group. Share ideas and ask for advice from organisations, or people that work with poetry and literature. People are wonderful resources!

Nal’ibali’s annual multilingual storytelling competition is running this September for Literacy and Heritage Month. Aimed at reviving a love of storytelling amongst adults and children, and connecting South Africans to their rich and vibrant heritage, the theme of this year’s contest is South African Heroes. Enter by telling the story of your favourite SA icon, your personal hero, or a fictional hero in your language, and you could be crowned this year’s Story Bosso! To find out more about Nal’ibali and Story Bosso, visit www.nalibali.org, www.nalibali.mobi, or find them on Facebook and Twitter.


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Submit a review of your favourite children’s book and stand a chance to win!

Click here for more!


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Jozi creatives, are you ready? Book Dash applications are open!

Calling all creatives in the City of Gold!

Book Dash is looking for volunteers to donate 12 hours of their writing wisdom, illustration ingenuity, design dexterity, or editing excellence to get together and create children’s books in any and all eleven official languages!

By applying for this Book Dash (due to take place on Saturday the 27th of October at Streetlight Schools in Jeppestown), you’ll help realise Book Dash’s mission to ensure that every child in the country owns 100 books by the age of five.

If you’re passionate about children’s literacy and would prefer to take a behind-the-scenes stance, why not apply to help out as a photographer, videographer, art director, or social media storyteller?

Click here for all the deets, apply before the 20th of September, and get the nation reading!


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Rally to Read’s nationwide rallies: 100% on track in the pursuit of literacy

Via the READ Educational Trust

Pupils participating in a past Rally to Read

 
In a beautiful country with a rugged landscape, the stark reality is that the journey to equality and education for all is equally rough, where poor literacy levels still abound, 24 years into democracy. In as much as all eyes are on our education system, the real remedy lies in a concerted, collective effort by all facets in society to pull together and contribute to the goal: literacy for all South Africans.

For the past two decades, Rally to Read has quietly ploughed forward, making inroads by actively furthering literacy in rural South Africa.

Rally to Read delivers educational materials and provides teacher training to specifically identified rural schools that frequently tend to ‘fall through the cracks’ of already-stretched provincial education budgets. In these schools, things the rest of us take for granted … books, pens, desks … are absent. Imagine how hard it is for educators to inspire, educate and promote literacy without the basics?

Responsible businesses and concerned private individuals contribute to the Rally to Read budget every year. This money pays for stationery, books, portable classroom libraries, and teacher training. Schools identified for the Rally to Read Programme are visited three years in a row. Educationalists believe this is the minimum period required to achieve sustainable results.

Over the past 20 years, independent studies have shown remarkable improvements in reading and writing skills at Rally to Read schools.

Educator training and school progress are carefully monitored by READ Educational Trust, who has managed the programme from the outset. Provincial education departments wholeheartedly endorse Rally to Read, as does our Government at national level. One of our great supporters in the past has been President Cyril Ramaphosa himself, who said, “Rally to Read is an extraordinary story of caring, collaboration and hope.”

Off the beaten track, Rally to Read is 100% on track in the pursuit of literacy. What makes this concept unique is that sponsors personally distribute the materials purchased. At no extra cost, they accompany their colleagues or families over a weekend, in a convoy to rural South Africa. They meet the children and educators whose lives they’re enriching, along with eager parents and community leaders.

Four rallies are planned for 2018, and even more are planned in years to come. The four provinces targeted in this year’s activities, are KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Eastern Cape and Western Cape. Generally, resources are loaded on the Saturday morning; convoys are split into teams, each of which visits two schools. Teams meet up later to talk about the day’s activities and sponsors spend a night in a nearby hotel and are invited to participate in an excursion before heading home.

The Free State rally will take place on 8 – 9 September, the KwaZulu-Natal rally on 20 October, the Western Cape rally will be held on 27 – 28 October and the Eastern Cape rally will take place on 3 – 4 November.

Sponsorship amounts to R35 000,00. Food and accommodation costs for the rally weekend are footed by the hosts and organisers. Off-road vehicles are available for hire at special rates.

Why not become involved in the Rally with a difference? Make inroads to places where literacy will make a lifetime of difference. For more details on how you can get involved, visit http://rallytoread.co.za/, or contact Lizelle on 0872377781.

This initiative is supported by READ Educational Trust, a non-profit organisation whose sole objective is to promote literacy across South Africa.


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