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READ Educational Trust: celebrating the freedom to learn, this Africa Day!

Written on behalf of READ Educational Trust

On 25 May 2018 we celebrate Africa Day; a day marking the independence of 28 African countries from European colonisers. While South Africa only became part of the original organisation in 1994, our country became the founding member of the African Union, officially launched in 2002.

For READ Educational Trust, a non-profit organisation promoting literacy amongst the poorest of the poor for nearly 40 years, this day is about far more than liberation. It’s about the freedom to learn; the freedom to explore and be educated, and at the very core, it’s about access to reading and literacy.

READ’S reason for being has always been to bring change to the lives of disadvantaged children in South Africa through education. Sadly, after 38 years since the organisation’s inception, we still see the majority of young learners being negatively impacted by a range of social and economic inequalities. These children in predominantly rural areas face a childhood of adversity.

There is inadequate access to healthcare, education, social services and quality nutrition. This has undermined the development of these learners, resulting in significant deficits that limit educational progress.

This limited progress was highlighted in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) report, released in December 2017. A staggering 80% of South African Grade 4 learners cannot read with comprehension. South Africa’s average score is 261 points below countries like The Russian Federation, Singapore and Ireland. This difference represents six school years – meaning that our Grade 8 learners, entering secondary education, are reading at the same level as Grade 2 learners in these countries. Our top achievers are at the same mean level score as the lowest 25% performing countries. Over the past five years, our learners (including the top achievers) have not progressed at all. Rural learners are three years below their urban counterparts.

READ has successfully addressed some of these issues over the years, thanks to the implementation of Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programmes that assist caregivers, educators and principals of ECD Centres in overcoming our country’s challenges. READ also provides practical training, hands-on support and valuable resources which have been shown to be extremely effective.

The need, however, is both dire and vast. A collective effort can change the face of South Africa. The only way to succeed is for governments, non-profit organisations, big business and private individuals to stand together and do all they can to combat illiteracy by actively promoting and funding reading and educational incentives.

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Call for Joburg creatives to make free children's books

Marco Viale se Gaap is ’n uitstekende boek vir ouers wat sukkel om kleintjies aan die slaap te maak!

Het jy al ooit probeer om op te hou gaap? Dis onmoontlik!
Dis soos om te probeer om die reën te laat ophou val. Of soos om jou ouers te oorreed dat sjokolade jou vinniger sal laat groei as groenbone.
As ’n gaap kom, moet dit nie onderdruk nie, want netnou raak jy aan die slaap!

Hierdie is ’n uitstekende boek vir ouers wat sukkel om kleintjies aan die slaap te maak! Niemand kan met hierdie boek ’n GAAP onderdruk nie!

Marco Viale is in ’n klein Italiaanse kusdorpie gebore. Hy is outeur en illustreerder, skilder, en het veel van sy werke in hoofkunsgalerye in Italië en Suid-Frankryk uitgestal. Die uitgewerye met wie hy al gewerk het, sluit in DeAgostini, Mondadori, Einaudi, Ravensburger, Pearson en Usborne. In 2013 is die nasionale Italiaanse prys “Nati per Leggere 2013″ aan hom toegeken en in 2014 wen hy die “Il Mangialibro 2014″-kompetisie vir La città dei lupi blu.


Shortlists for 2018 Media24 Books Awards announced

Media24 Books is proud to announce the shortlists for the 2018 Media24 Books Literary Awards.

This year, prizes to the value of R210 000 in total will be awarded in six categories.

These annual awards serve to recognise the best work published during the previous year by Media24 book publishers including NB Publishers (through imprints such as Human & Rousseau, Tafelberg, Kwela and Queillerie) as well as Jonathan Ball Publishers.

Independent judging panels compiled the shortlists from 80 submissions in total. The shortlists consist of three titles each, apart from the Elizabeth Eybers Poetry Prize where an exceptionally strong field saw four titles included on the shortlist.

The shortlists, in alphabetical order according to author, are:

Herman Charles Bosman Prize for English Fiction (novels, short stories, drama)

The Life of Worm and Other Misconceptions by Ken Barris (Kwela)
I am Pandarus by Michiel Heyns (Jonathan Ball Publishers)
Being Kari by Qarnita Loxton (Kwela)

Recht Malan Prize for Nonfiction

How to Steal a City by Crispian Olver (Jonathan Ball Publishers)
The President’s Keepers by Jacques Pauw (Tafelberg)
Khwezi: The Story of Fezekile Kuzwayo by Redi Tlhabi (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

WA Hofmeyr Prize for Afrikaans Fiction (novels, short stories, drama)

As in die mond by Nicole Jaekel Strauss (Queillerie)
Die wêreld van Charlie Oeng by Etienne van Heerden (Tafelberg)
Groen soos die hemel daarbo by Eben Venter (Tafelberg)

Elisabeth Eybers Prize for Poetry

Nou, hier by Corné Coetzee (Human & Rousseau)
Radbraak by Jolyn Phillips (Human & Rousseau)
Alles het niet kom wôd by Nathan Trantraal (Kwela)
In die stille agterkamer by Marlene van Niekerk (Human & Rousseau)

MER Prize for Youth Novels

Hap by Lesley Beake (Tafelberg)
Blou is nie ’n kleur nie by Carin Krahtz (Tafelberg)
Soen by Jan Vermeulen (Tafelberg)

MER Prize for Illustrated Children’s Books

The All Africa Wildlife Express by Rosamund Haden and Tony Pinchuck (illustrator)
Karel Kraai se kitaar by Louise Smit and Luan Serfontein (illustrator)
Liewe Heksie en die sterretjieskombuis – based on the original story by Verna Vels and illustrated by Vian Oelofsen.

The winner in each category receives R35 000. The MER Prize for Illustrated Children’s Books is shared by the author and illustrator of the winning title.

The awards function will be held in Cape Town on Thursday 14 June 2018.

The Life of Worm

Book details


I am Pandarus


Being Kari


How To Steal A City


The President's Keepers




As in die Mond


Die wêreld van Charlie Oeng


Groen soos die hemel daarbo


Nou, hier




Alles het niet kom wôd


In die stille agterkamer




Blou is nie 'n kleur nie




All Africa Wildlife Express


Karel Kraai se kitaar


Liewe Heksie en die Sterretjieskombuis

When she was a teenager, the Afrikaans poet Sheila Cussons tried her hand at an English fairytale – and the results are breathtaking

Trevor in the Land of FantasySheila Cussons gave her son, Jaume Saladrigas Cussons, a gift – a manuscript she had kept to herself for decades. Her son fulfilled her wish and in due course Imbali Academic published his mother’s imaginative and inspiring story.

“As adults we often lose sight of the fantasy world that exists in our imaginations,” says Ute Spath, Director of Sales and Marketing at Imbali Academic Publishers. “We are privileged to make this creative piece available. Cussons seamlessly incorporated old-world charm into a whimsical dreamland, and the result is Trevor in the Land of Fantasy.”

During an interview Cussons confirmed: “When I was about 14 I wrote an English story for my little brother, who was two at the time. I named it Trevor in the Land of Fantasy and I also illustrated it. I recall writing it in a hammock between two trees in our garden”.

Offering the perfect escape, the book will appeal to children and adults alike, and was re-lived by Cussons on many occasions as she read it to her brother, and then to her sons later in life.

Having moved to Spain she enjoyed sharing this secret story with her family. In later life Cussons moved back to South Africa and lived, for the last part of her life, at Nazareth House in Cape Town.

“While most of Cussons’ work was published between the 1970s and 1990s, this rare youth work held a very special place in her heart. Set in her home country, South Africa, the book instantly transports readers to a fantasy world. The imaginary piece will serve an important purpose in her memory, as all sales proceeds will be donated to Nazareth House,” concludes Spath.

Book details

"The aim of VW is to ensure that every 10-year-old child in Uitenhage will be able to read with comprehension and write." A Q&A with Vernon Naidoo, manager of the Volkswagen Community Trust

Published in the Sunday World, Daily Dispatch, Herald

By Carla Lever

Vernon Naidoo, manager: The Volkswagen Community Trust.

What role do you think corporates can play in making meaningful change in South Africa?

Most corporates are trusted because of the brands they represent. They have power in the form of leverage and resources. Government will never be able to fully turn the SA ship around – there’s a shortage of resources and skills, not the mention a lot of red tape! Meaningful change can be achieved, though – we just need Government, media, NGOs and Corporates to work together.

VW has chosen education as one of its target areas for giving back. Why is it something you feel so strongly about at VW?

The aim of VW is to ensure that every 10-year-old child in Uitenhage will be able to read with comprehension and write. In fact, we’ve been in the education space for more than 30 years – we believe it’s one of the key ingredients to true freedom.

In comparison with Africa and the world, South Africa ranks low on the literacy (reading with comprehension) scale. Volkswagen, together with the Department of Education and other stakeholders, want to part of the solution to change this statistic.

You partner with literacy NGO Nal’ibali on an exciting project in Uitenhage. What does it involve?

Volkswagen funds story supplements in newspapers across the country. In the Nelson Mandela Bay area, Nal’ibali has been tasked to set up Reading Clubs in schools and communities. Since books are so expensive, the reading supplement is utilised in the schools. Grade 2 and 3 learners are paired together – we call this the Book Buddy system. Each child is given a container (ice cream 2 litre works well) with 30 stories in it. These stories are cut out from the supplement. We call this the “mobile library” because the children take it home and can read a story wherever they are.

These two images were taken at the opening of the second literacy centre, opened by VWSA, Mngcunube Literacy Centre, on 26 February in KwaNobuhle.


That’s great, because if there is one ‘magic bullet’ solution to the education challenges South Africa is facing, studies seem to suggest it is books. Yet very few books are available in the mother tongue languages spoken by most people in this country. Why do you feel reading is an important part of education?

I feel that reading with comprehension is the key to education. This enables the young person to grasp concepts and skills. It will also assist them to think critically and to develop their reasoning skills. If you can’t read, this automatically excludes you from many things but especially from participating in the economy.

VW also seeks to encourage a volunteer culture in its staff as a way of giving back at a personal level. Have there been any particularly interesting staff campaigns with education?

Absolutely! As part of our Employee Volunteerism, we recruited staff to read to learners from five schools. We bused in the learners to the VW People’s Pavilion Hall. The other campaign that we ran was for every staff member to donate a book. These were donated to schools. Through this, VW has placed reading corners in all the schools that we work in. Our follow-up studies showed that those learners with reading corners in the class fared significantly better than those without, so we feel this is making a real difference.

What’s your challenge to other South African businesses, large or small?

As VWSA, we cannot do this alone. We have an annual literacy conference in Uitenhage – it would be a great idea if someone from another organisation can attend and share insights. We can all work on this together. We can change that low SA statistic! Let’s partner, because in this space there is no competition!

From Sunday April 15, Nal’ibali will be publishing its supplements in two new languages. An English-Setswana edition will be published in the Sunday World in the North West, and an English-Xitsonga edition will be donated to reading clubs in Limpopo. Clubs in both provinces will collect their copies from select post offices. The post offices (10 in each province) will also have 50 additional editions each to give away to member of the public.