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Impact and Reach

Nal’ibali (isiXhosa for “here’s the story”) is a national reading-for-enjoyment campaign to spark children’s potential through storytelling and reading.

Impact and Reach

Numbers that speak

Since our launch in 2012, Nal’ibali has solidly entrenched its position as a thought and action leader for children’s literacy development. To date, we have spread the power of stories and reading nationwide. 

As of end December 2018, Nal'ibali has achieved the following:

Reading clubs

Since inception 4839 reading clubs have been established in 9 provinces of which 3706 are still active in 9 provinces.

Number of children in reading clubs

As at end 2018 140,998 children currently in reading clubs.

People trained

To date 22,456 people have been trained at training events.

FUNda Leaders

17,387  FUNda Leaders have signed up to date. 

Materials produced

79 brand-new stories, and 526 translations of these stories. 

150 supplement editions, in 6 languages since April 2015,
and 8 languages since April 2018. 

1,419,035 magazine stories distributed in 6 publications. 

Materials distributed since campaign inception

488,670 books distributed. 

34,793,700 supplements produced. 

Supplements by distribution method:

In Newspapers


Directly to reading clubs/partners


Radio stories

8065  radio broadcasts aired, which reach 7,403,000 listeners per week in 12 languages. 

Flagship events and competitions

World Read Aloud Day: 1,559,730 children read to in 2018. 

Story Bosso: 1980 stories collected and 6530 people engaged in 2018. 


Nal’ibali publishes a bilingual newspaper supplement in eight SA language combinations (English/isiZulu, English/isiXhosa, English/Afrikaans, English/Sepedi, English/Setswana, English/Sesotho and English/Xitsonga) every two weeks during the school term. For each edition copies are distributed in various Tiso Blackstar publications: the Sunday World (Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, North West and Limpopo), the Sunday Times Express (Western Cape), and the Daily Dispatch and The Herald (Eastern Cape). Copies are also delivered to directly to reading clubs in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Western Cape; and selected SA post offices in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, North West and Limpopo. 


Over the years, various South African role models and celebrities have joined Nal’ibali to amplify the message of the power of stories and literacy. Zolani Mahola, Bonnie Henna, The Soil, Nik Rabinowitz, ProVerb, Refiloe Mpakanyane, Sindiwe Magona, Gcina Mhlophe, Suzelle DIY, Ajax Cape Town and a host of other South African public figures have stepped up and spread the message to their own audiences.

A shift in attitude

To create a culture of reading, it’s crucial to shift mindsets and, consequently, behaviour. Once people have taken ownership of an idea or a concept, once they see it is an integral part of their world view and identity, behaviour begins to change. Nal’ibali strives to acknowledge and promote reading and storytelling as a key part of South African identity. This is why our reading clubs and drives extend to several provinces, focuses on mother tongue languages and provides content that is culturally relevant.

We’ve analysed links between reading club activities and literacy development. This has enabled us to keep abreast of statistically significant shifts, and to better understand whether behaviour trends are changing over time.

Our analysis of activity reports received from a number of reading clubs from 2012 to 2015 shows increases in writing and children reading on their own – which are crucial in both literacy development and gaining a genuine love for reading. We were also able to see that children had started to read aloud and draw more often, as well as continue to use cut-out-and-keep books.

Another fundamental aspect of our campaign are the numerous collaborations we have with our partners, which enable us to increase the breadth and scope of our reach. Feedback from partner organisations using the Nal’ibali Newspaper Supplements in their reading clubs shows the impact of both the supplements and informal literacy learning opportunities:

[At] the Kokosi Library, up to 63 young readers come on a weekly basis to make the cut out and keep books, read along with the library staff member and slowly build their own library collections. Children are learning, in a fun way, not only in their own language but also in other languages. It helps to raise bigger inter-cultural understanding of their immediate community, but also of the world and how they fit into that. – Emfuleni Library

Locally we have seen struggling language skills soaring up to 30% where children came to partake in the Nal’ibali reading programme on a weekly basis in the public library. Parents and teachers are equally expressing their appreciation of the supplement and the role it plays in helping their children on their academic way. – Johannesburg City Libraries

There is a dire shortage of story books in our underprivileged schools and we promoted Nal’ibali supplements at all our workshops, reminding teachers that they need not lack for reading material ever again… The supplements have been a vital aspect of the Masikhulisane programme, as without the wonderful bilingual stories the programme would not have the impact that teachers believe that it has had on the learners’ changed attitude to reading. – General Motors SA

The supplements that were e-mailed to us were forwarded to the district officials to share them with the schools. Some schools were able to make copies to increase access for learners in the clubs. Other schools are keeping the copies in the libraries. – Department of Education, KwaZulu-Natal

Our partnerships with the Department of Basic Education, the Department of Arts and Culture, the Community Work Programme, the SABC and others are integral in our approach to connect with and inspire as many adults and children across the country as possible.

Nal’ibali continues to measure the impact of the campaign through in-depth analysis focused on content, reach, attitudes and media to better engage with more adults and children across South Africa. We estimate that about 20% of South Africans have contact with Nal’ibali in some form or other. The aim is to ensure that at least two thirds (about 35 million people) interact directly with the campaign. To do this, Nal’ibali is scaling up its work in schools, widening its reach into every district in the country, finding retailers willing to partner in increasing people’s access to books and reading materials, and keeping alive its dynamic and joyful media campaign. By basing our approach and strategy on emerging trends, we hope to fundamentally change the reading culture in South Africa – one story at a time.