A recent report showed that only 6% of the children’s books published in South Africa between 2000 and 2015 were printed in isiZulu, and if you think about the fact that nearly a quarter of our population are Zulu speakers, the situation is far from ideal. Aside from the sociological and psychological issues associated with not being sufficiently exposed to your mother tongue, learning to read in a second language is likely to slow progress and disadvantage children who are trying to learn a new skill in a language that they don’t understand. But things don’t just happen – plans need to be put in place, initiatives need to be pushed.
The Indigenous Languages Publishing Programme (ILPP) was implemented in response to this problem, with the aim of increasing the production of South African authored books in local languages, through amongst other things, a funding programme which covers up to 50% of the cost of publishing indigenous language books. “The Indigenous Languages Publishing Programme is really about original works in original language; therefore translations are not really our focus. However, the job of the ILPP is to push and encourage more books to be published in indigenous languages and to tell relevant stories in the language of the people……..by encouraging people to read more books in their home language, not only are we securing the future of these languages, but we are also instilling a sense of pride and heritage in our people”, says the CEO of the South African Book Development Council, Elitha van der Sandt.
Nal’ibali (isiXhosa for “here’s the story”) is a national reading campaign that highlights the importance of reading to children, and reading to them in a language that they are comfortable with. The programme, which offers free reading material in isiZulu, isiXhosa, Sesotho, Sepedi and English, believes that being read to in your home language is an essential and powerful part of developing literacy skills, and one that makes all other learning easier. By encouraging mother-tongue reading Nal’ibali is hoping to improve the overall state of education in South Africa.
Below are some of the publishers/distributors currently offering isiZulu children and adult books for sale: