Lead SALead SA

FundZA for the Win!

Written by: diannem

We’re delighted to announce that FunDza has been awarded the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy 2017.

The prize, supported by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, rewards work that benefits rural populations and out-of-school youth, particularly girls and women. The award ceremony will take place on International Literacy Day, celebrated on 8 September, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. This year it focuses on literacy in a digital world.

The event brings together stakeholders and decision-makers from different parts of the world to examine how digital technology can help close the literacy gap and gain better understanding of the skills needed in today’s societies.

We feel deeply honoured by this recognition for our work to get teens and young adults across South Africa reading and writing for pleasure. Thanks go to UNESCO and the Government of the People’s Republic of China for this incredible recognition for our work. Thanks too go to all the individuals and organisations that have supported and worked with our organisation since inception.”

Says Mignon Hardie, executive director of FunDza

The other two laureates receiving the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy are:

AdulTICoProgram of the Secretariat of Information and Communications Technologies of the city of Armenia (Colombia), for teaching digital competencies to seniors.

TheCitizens Foundation (Pakistan) for its Aagahi Literacy Programme for Women and Out-of-School Girls, which conducts digital educational needs assessments and provides teaching services to support the education of younger girls and older women.

There are also two awards given for the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize, dedicated to mother-tongue literacy education and training, sponsored by the Republic of Korea.

These go to:

Centrefor the Study of Learning & Performance (CSLP) at Concordia University (Canada), for the Using Educational Technology to Develop Essential Educational Competencies in Sub-Saharan Africa project, which develops and distributes its material internationally free of charge.

WeLove Reading (Jordan), a programme with a virtual community that offers online read-aloud trainings for parents, mobilises volunteers to reJad aloud in community spaces to children and provides age-appropriate material through a digital library.

FunDza’s online platform – fundza.mobi – houses a library that is accessible through mobile phones, tablets and computers and is reaching thousands of young readers on a daily basis. FunDza is continuously creating new content for the platform to encourage young people to make reading a daily habit, and to inspire them to write too.

In the last financial year, fundza.mobi reached more than 570,000 individual readers. And, at present it is reaching around 70,000 committed readers each month, who read on average for 15 minute periods on their phones.

In addition to the online platform, FunDza is supporting beneficiary groups around the country with locally-created, exciting print books that ignite a love of reading. Since inception, FunDza has supported more than 500 groups who on average reach 100+ individual learners or readers. Through this network, FunDza is getting reading materials into the hands of those who need it most.

"We believe that reading stories changes lives. We get incredible feedback from our readers who say that they are now able to read first thing in the morning or last thing at night thanks to fundza.mobi. They also share how stories are impacting on their lives – not only in terms of language acquisition but also through the power of stories to connect with their hearts and minds.”

Mignon Hardie

Here are just a few quotes from readers saying what reading with FunDza has meant to them:

“I enjoy stories that are told by South Africans writers about South African people. It inspires me because I realize that there is too much talent and I’m happy that fundza is there for people who are book worms because a person who reads is an interesting person and interested in people.” (Zanele)

“Since the stories are almost published in almost every South African languages I get to learn how to read and understand new languages and also learn some of the words I didn’t know that they even existed.” (Lebogang)

“What I enjoy on Fundza is I like reading some stories and almost it is true. Some stories made me think of how to be in life, how to fight battles and believe in yourself. I enjoy reading stories on Fundza.” (Sibongile)

Click here for the official UNESCO press release.



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