700 young minds unite at Tirrogae-Ekurhuleni Book Festival

On the morning of 8 September, almost 700 of Ekurhuleni’s young minds from both primary and high schools (Grades 3 to 8) joined together at the first-ever Tirrogae-Ekurhuleni Book and Storytelling Festival at the UNISA Daveyton Campus. The morning was filled with interactive reading, storytelling and arts.

The event, arranged by Tirogae Interactive Educational Projects and African Bank in partnership with Tina Cowely, MathMasters, The Reading Gogos, Siyaphumelela and AVM arts, kicked off with presentations from Anna Brown from the Department of Basic Education who is the Project Manager: School Library Promotion and author Donald Mokwetle who came from Namibia to share his thoughts on the value of literature in our lifetime. The learners were then hosted at several different stalls receiving various literature interactive lessons. Some were doing literature through drama, spelling bees, storytelling through puppets, reading though tech gadgets, audio book, listening exercises, group reading, rhymes and much more. All the stalls offered a variety of lessons each running for 30 minutes and every lesson had a prize for the group attending. At the end of the day one learner walked away with the main prize, a fully paid university bursary sponsored by MathMasters. Amongst other prizes for the day was a six months tutor prize from MathMasters and various goodie bags packed with stationery and more.

Nkululeko Malepa, who is a trainee developer at African Bank and the founder of Tirogae Interactive Educational Projects, says his objective is to make the youth functionally literate through developing interactive learning programmes. African Bank has been working closely with the organisation since 2015 initially through its book tricycles door-to-door campaign. “African Bank provided the funding for five book tricycles each valued at between R10 000 and R20 000. I believe that no problem in this country can be solved until the issue of illiteracy is resolved.”

In South Africa about 80 percent of children can’t read properly after four years of full-time schooling. “We are told that we must be devoting more time and resources to teaching them to collaborate. Or think critically. Or to code. But they can’t read. In the future, they will need to know how to work with artificial intelligence. But they can’t read. Children who do not learn to read for meaning after three years of schooling are never going to learn these other skills or be employed in the 21st century. Yes, children of the future will need more and different skills, but you cannot leap-frog literacy. That is why it is critical that initiatives like the book tricycles and book festivals take place,” says Malepa.

Kennedy Dembetembe, African Bank’s National CSI Manager, says African Bank is very proud to be a part of this movement. “Reading is a fundamental and needs to be encouraged. The African Bank CSI and Creative teams worked tirelessly to ensure that the Book Festival was a success from concept, planning of the festival, design and marketing, to execution and financial support for food, setting of the venue and other logistics. Many thanks also go to the Daveyton branch of African Bank and to all who joined forces to impact the lives of the youth of Ekurhuleni,” he says.

Malepa adds that a Gauteng Book Festival and Storytelling is being planned for early 2019 and will unite 3000 young people through reading. “Each of us, if we live to be just 70 years old, spends only nine percent of our lives in school. Considering that the other 91 percent is spent ‘out there,’ then the only really substantial thing education can do is help us to become continuous, lifelong learners. Learners who learn without textbooks and tests, without certified teachers, without standardised curricula. Learners who love to learn. To me, this is the ultimate goal of education and my societal transformation work,” he concludes.


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