PRAESA receives international children's literacy award

24 October 2014 | Story by Newsroom
PRAESA's Ntombizanele Mahobe and Dr Carole Bloch together with fellow IBBY-Asahi winners the <a href="" target="_blank">Children's Book Bank</a>.
PRAESA's Ntombizanele Mahobe and Dr Carole Bloch together with fellow IBBY-Asahi winners the Children's Book Bank.

UCT-affiliated research unit PRAESA, the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa, was recently awarded the IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award, a biennial award to groups or institutions making a lasting contribution to reading promotion for children and young people.

Nominated for more than two decade's worth of work in the field of children's multilingual literacy development, PRAESA was established in 1992 by the late Dr Neville Alexander '“ a leading proponent of a multilingual South Africa '“ to carry out developmental research into multilingual classrooms, early literacy teaching and learning, as well as to promote a culture of reading and facilitate storybook and other reading materials development for use in multilingual settings.

More recently, under the directorship of Dr Carole Bloch, PRAESA has been driving the Nal'ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign. isiXhosa for 'here's a story', Nal'ibali emphasises sparking children's potential (regardless of their linguistic, cultural or class backgrounds) through storytelling and reading.

"The same kind of enriched and inspiring conditions that encourage English-speaking children to become engaged readers and writers are the same ones that African-language speakers need," says Bloch. "This should be self-evident, but it isn't. In our work we are countering the low level expectations of the education system for millions of bright young African-language speakers as they enter and progress through primary school. Secondly, nurturing a love of stories offers us all enjoyable inroads into lifelong learning journeys. The hegemonic pressure of schooling to deliver measurable skills, however, has led to a loss of appreciation for the deep educational value of stories. We are reviving the value of narrative as an essential part of not just education but also community and home settings."


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