Canon Collins scholar Hlengiwe Ndlovu (PhD Industrial Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand) is encouraging primary school and high school learners to read and engage with African literature through her Canon Collins-sponsored “Reading for Tomorrow” initiative. The project, which was voted winner of our 2017 Scholar Impact Award, brings together young children from both privileged and disadvantaged homes, to read and discuss novels. Started in October 2016, the idea was inspired by Hlengiwe’s own experiences of struggling with reading when she first entered university, having lacked access to novels when growing up. She aims to promote a culture of reading for pleasure, while learners also develop their basic literacy skills and become more familiar with African literature.
Since receiving the Canon Collins Impact Award funding, Reading for Tomorrow has grown exponentially. What started as a small weekly reading group in Johannesburg has evolved into a fully functioning library with more than 130 titles. Hlengiwe has also established two more book clubs in East London townships where she has been conducting her PhD research and responsible learners have been trained to manage the library and discussion groups in Hlengiwe’s absence. Looking to ensure sustainability and growth beyond the Impact Award funding, they have established contact with a number of local publishing houses who have agreed to provide the project with free and discounted books.
Hlengiwe says: “Through the Reading for Tomorrow project I have learned that there is so much literary talent in Africa. Although teaching should incorporate global narratives, there is much to be achieved by focusing on local contexts in educating African children. Their participation in the reading groups helps give context and bring to life what the children are learning at school.
We are grateful to Canon Collins for this opportunity to grow and we remain committed to doing more with what we have. Through donations and books purchased, we now have a large collection that are well taken care of by responsible readers who value and treasure this project and will sustain it for years to come.”