Children will invest in their futures if they read

2018-06-11 15:45
(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Two musicians, a TV presenter, a retail entrepreneur and myself – an anthropologist – are seated around a table discussing the current state of South African youth.

One of the musicians is a multilingual rapper and actress, and is currently producing a documentary on a cultural item of significance. The second musician has created a refreshing blend of hip-hop with a youthful twist on the maskandi genre. The television presenter is regarded by many as a fashion icon and has established a television production house creating opportunities for young people in the industry. The retail entrepreneur has an ethos of collaboration that involves hosting fun and engaging multidisciplinary events to showcase the works of Johannesburg’s young artists. I am a scholar, children’s book author, poet and an absolute lover of storytelling.

What struck me during our conversation is that we all care deeply about our history, our heritage, our future and the present human condition in the world. Whether it is writing captivating lyrics or poetry; conducting research for an academic paper, documentary or script; going over business contracts; or finding ways to articulate ourselves on our social-media platforms, our worlds revolve around reading, storytelling and critical thinking in the pursuit of becoming better versions of ourselves.

We use words and our work to navigate what it means to be young and African, and how to leave our society a better one than we found it.

In the quest to encourage more South African youngsters to read and become involved in promoting a culture of reading, I believe it is important to illuminate the ways that literacy contributes to the life journeys of people across different vocations. It is also important to meet people where they are.

For instance, before our conversation, another person complimented me on the tattoo on my leg – a large stack of books – and asked what had inspired it. “Oh, I just really love reading,” I said. “Books make me happy.”

“Wow, books,” he responded. “I can’t even tell you the last time I read a book. It must have been in high school or something,” he said with a shrug.

I sometimes wonder if our lack of reading has something to do with the way in which our school system failed to make reading enjoyable at a young age. I truly believe that if the school curriculum was better designed to inspire and connect to the collective soul of contemporary South African children, instead of having it (along with the parts of it that are oddly archaic and somewhat irrelevant) forced on them for the purposes of grades and matriculation, young people might develop better relationships with books and reading.

We need to meet people where they are. Most of us have ambitions of becoming larger-than-life versions of ourselves. Therefore, we have to find a way to emphasise that reading is important, not only to people who want to one day be in literacy-related fields the way I am, but to everyone who wants to excel, regardless of their path. The great thing about the internet and social media is that young people especially are constantly engaged in challenging conversations about the state of our society. Regardless of whether some people choose wilful ignorance, the World Wide Web is always there as a source of information, should they desire to seek it out.

Words and language are basic tools of communication for our shared humanity, and it is essential that we get rid of the idea that reading is something we only do in school. Reading can be enjoyable, and written words will unlock a world of possibilities, if allowed.

The people I introduced in the beginning of this article are reflections of the possibilities of life trajectories available to youngsters in South African, regardless of formal schooling. While not necessarily only book-related, reading has helped them to apply their minds and produce knowledge through their individual expressions – contributing to how they have become the notable people they are today.

We are all custodians of the great African story, in all its richness and complexity, and we all have a contribution to make in advancing our continent in a globalised world.

We have to meet young people where they are and invest in their futures by making reading accessible, relevant and essential to their life paths.

Masango is a master’s candidate in social anthropology at Wits University, an author of the children’s book Mpumi’s Magic Beads, a poet, a freelance writer and a feminist activist

This Youth Month, Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, is calling on all youngsters in South African – and anyone else interested in promoting literacy in their communities – to become reading role models by signing up to its volunteer network, FUNda Leader. The platform provides specialised literacy training; access to multilingual stories; invitations to events and activities; and on-going support and motivation to help young children where they are dream about and create better futures for themselves through books and stories.

For more information on the Nal’ibali campaign, details of where to access its reading-for-enjoyment supplements or to download them directly from its website, visit nalibali.org or nalibali.mobi. You can also find Nal’ibali on Facebook and Twitter: nalibaliSA

TALK TO US

How do you, or could you, contribute to encouraging children to enjoy reading?

SMS us on 35697 using the keyword READ and tell us what you think. Please include your name and province. SMSes cost R1.50

Read more on:    education

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

HSE Manager

Cape Town
Tumaini Consulting
R550 000.00 - R650 000.00 Per Year

Cluster Financial Manager

Cape Town
Network Finance
R950 000.00 - R1 000 000.00 Per Year

IT Manager (contract)

Cape Town CBD
Communicate Cape Town IT
R330 000.00 - R458 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.