The Nal’ibali initiative is built on the simple logic that a well-established culture of reading can be a real game-changer for education in South Africa. Picture: PxFuel
The Nal’ibali initiative is built on the simple logic that a well-established culture of reading can be a real game-changer for education in South Africa. Picture: PxFuel

3 classic fairy tales re-imagined for Literacy Month

By Marchelle Abrahams Time of article published Sep 16, 2021

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Globally, about 250 million children are failing to acquire basic literacy skills, according to Unesco. In South Africa, eight out of every ten children are functionally illiterate, meaning that they cannot read or write at a basic level.

As part of Literacy Month, Standard Bank and Nal’ibali have re-imagined three classic fairy tales by retelling them with the help of popular local performers in local languages and with modern, relatable local contexts.

‘‘By giving classic fairy tales a modern spin and having South African artists retell them with culturally relevant settings and characters, we are not only promoting local talent, languages and culture, we are also exposing South African children to internationally recognised stories and lessons,’’ said Yandiswa Xhakaza, Nal’ibali CEO.

The Nal’ibali initiative is built on the simple logic that a well-established culture of reading can be a real game-changer for education in South Africa, and therefore promotes reading and writing in mother tongue languages.

The partnership was launched in 2020 and started as an emergency Covid-19 literacy and education intervention. It has now grown into a custom-designed initiative, ensuring that caregivers supporting their children’s education and literacy journeys at home receive support through interactive WhatsApp groups with trained experts.

Little Red Riding Hood, The Ugly Duckling and The Frog Prince will be retold by headline performers Sihle Nontshokweni (an award-winning international writer, storyteller, PhD candidate and host for The Ultimate Book Show); Buhle Ngaba (a multi-award winning South African actor, writer, and theatre activist) and Sanelisiwe Ntuli (a veteran storyteller and long-standing narrator on South Africa’s biggest radio station, Ukhozi FM) in isiZulu, Setswana, and English.

The remaining public storytelling sessions will be broadcast on Nal’ibali Facebook page (@NalibaliSA) on the following dates:

  • September 17: Sihle Nontshokweni,
  • September 22: Buhle Ngaba,

Members of the public are invited to join the performances and to access Nal’ibali’s free reading-for- enjoyment training at www.nalibali.mobi.

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