Educational experts reckon the fixing of the literacy crisis in South Africa requires the coming together of multiple role players. One of such players is literacy activist, Boniswa Mkhumbeni (26) from Soutpan, Brandfort.
Mkhumbeni stands tall amongst South African women who are committed to transforming their communities through education. She supports children across four Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres in Soutpan, along with their parents and educators, in order to awaken a love of reading and story sharing. Further, she runs a successful after-school reading club consisting of children from age six to 14.
Mkhumbeni forms part of a network of young change drivers, known as Story Sparkers, led by Nal’ibali, with a collective aim to ensure that South African children stand a chance to succeed through the power of stories and reading.
In her role as a story sparker, she ensures that books and stories are brought to life for children in languages they understand. Her day-to-day activities include the running of literacy-related events and activations, the delivery of books and other reading materials, creating awareness of the importance of reading and sharing stories, and inspiring communities to get involved.
Mkhumbeni firmly believes that since she deals with children at ECD level, the effects of her work will be meaningful and long-lasting, felt throughout children’s school years and long into adulthood. “Children who are exposed to great and well-told stories in languages they understand are motivated to learn to read and write for themselves. Further, children who regularly read for pleasure perform better in the classroom, regardless of their family’s income or social standing,’ she says.