The power of a story on air

A good story has the power to mesmerise, and by tapping into this power Nal’ibali hopes to transform school experiences for kids across the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Nal’ibali, with the help of local radio stations, would like the magic of stories to reach children in their homes.

With so many South Africans living in areas where accessing reading material is far from easy, Nal’ibali’s partnership with radio stations will take the magic of stories to rural youth. (Image: Nal’ibali)

Mathiba Molefe

A good story might be the key to unlocking the untapped potential of South Africa’s youth attending school in some of the country’s rural and underprivileged areas.

Numerous radio stations in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal have joined forces with Nal’ibali in an effort to bring these stories into the homes of school children in rural communities throughout both provinces.

Beginning in March these radio stations will be supporting the new project, Story Powered Schools.  Radio stations will broadcast children’s stories in their respective home languages, as well as English, as part of their regular programming.

Launched at the beginning of the school year, Story Powered Schools is a pilot project created with the help of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to bring Nal’ibali’s proven approach to literacy development to select rural schools.

Over a three year period, the project will be working closely with more than 700 schools spread throughout the Ugu and uThukela districts in KwaZulu-Natal as well as the Maluti and Bizana districts in the Eastern Cape.

“Stories and storytelling lie at the heart of children’s literacy development,” says Michael Cekiso, the manager of the Story Powered Schools Project.

“While the Story Powered Schools project is an exciting way for Nal’ibali to expand its work with primary schools – and unlock the potential of the learners who attend them, the support of community radio stations will enable us to reach directly into the homes of the communities we are working with; allowing even more children and families access to mother-tongue stories.”

Stories, particularly when read or heard in a familiar language, help children develop their language skills and imagination as well as developing their problem-solving skills, making them better equipped to succeed at school.

Stories, particularly when read or heard in a familiar language, help children develop their language skills and imagination as well as developing their problem-solving skills, making them better equipped to succeed at school.

Why radio

Not many South Africans have access to books written in their mother tongue. According to Nal’ibali, statistics show that 51% of homes in South Africa don’t have access to leisure books and 85% of the population lives beyond the reach of a public library. This makes radio the ideal medium for enriching and engaging stories to reach those in impoverished rural areas.

“Radio is a great platform for us to help educate our children. Our aim at Radio Sunny South is to inform, educate and to entertain,” says Radio Sunny South programmes manager, Mbali Mbotho.

“To us, it is a privilege to participate. We hope to play a huge role in improving the literacy skills of our children.”

If you would like to tune in and catch some of the magic you can have a look at the programming schedule below:

  • Good News Community Radio: Wednesdays at 1:05pm
  • Ugu Youth Radio: Thursdays at 7:05pm
  • Radio Sunny South: Wednesday at 9:10am
  • Radio Khwezi: Saturdays at 8:00am
  • Inkonjane FM: Tuesday at 5:45pm and Saturdays at 8:00am
  • Link FM: Broadcasting from April only

Get reading

For those who would like to access the power of reading and stories in other areas around South Africa can visit the Nal’ibali website and mobisite.

The Nal’ibali sites offer a wide range of reading materials and stories in a number of South African languages and tips and ideas on how to read and share stories with children at home and in the classroom.

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