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Fostering a reading culture

In an effort to enable young children to read in their mother language, the South African Post Office (Sapo) and non-profit organisation Nal’ibali have come together on a project that enables young children to do just that.

Nal’ibali produces interactive, fun reading material that the children assemble themselves, while the Post Office makes the reading material available for collection at its branches at no cost.

“Nal’ibali has been able to make available 80 000 reading supplements to people that collect them from Post Office outlets, and 400 000 supplements to reading clubs, schools and preschools,” Nal’ibali acting Managing Director Katie Huston said on Friday.

The reading supplements are published in South Africa’s 11 official languages.

Teachers, learners, caregivers or librarians have been encouraged to join the Nal’ibali tribe by emailing

The email should have the following information:

  • The name and postcode of your local post office.
  • The name of your reading club, school or library.
  • A cellphone number of the school or reading club that can be put on the address label.

“Children who read in their mother language have a better understanding of what they are reading than those who read in another language. The battle to learn to read in another language is probably enough to put many children off reading, and therefore learning, for life,” Sapo said.

A year ago, the reading supplements were available at only 46 Post Offices.

“This increase was made possible by the partnership Nal’ibali has with the SA Post Office. We were able to do this by using the branch network of the Post Office; everybody knows that there is a Post Office in almost every village,” Huston said.

Research done by Nal’ibali indicates that children, parents and teachers enjoy reading the supplements.

In addition, parents and teachers have report that it helps children develop their reading skills, and it gives parents and children an opportunity to spend quality time together.