In a country with terrifyingly low literacy rates – according to research released by the University of Pretoria in December last year, eight out of ten Grade 4 pupils in South Africa can’t read at an appropriate level – the importance of education, and good quality supporting educational material, can’t be underestimated. Even more important is learning material in African languages, as it’s widely accepted that first language learning is a more effective way of teaching children. While there has definitely been some progress, there is still a massive shortage of books written in indigenous African languages, a situation that Siya Masuku is hoping to address.
In 2015 Masuku launched a Thundafund campaign to raise money for the publication of his book, Siyafunda: isiZulu, an alphabet book aimed at primary school children learning isiZulu. The book, which features the most beautiful illustrations by Masuku, includes an English translation for non-Zulu speakers. Masuku set himself an initial goal of R35 000 which he hoped would enable him to donate 1000 books to children who couldn’t afford to buy their own copy of Siyafunda. His ultimate goal though was to raise R155 000, in order to expand on the project. By the end of the campaign an impressive R175 500 had been raised, a testament to the passion of Masuku and the quality of the book.
Three years down the line and Siyafunda has grown into an online learning centre focused on indigenous African languages, and includes the sale of children’s books; monthly subscriptions to online language courses; one-on-one lessons; as well as prints of the wonderful linocut illustrations featured in Masuku’s first book.
To purchase one of these fantastic educational books or courses, or to learn how to become part of the growing Siyafunda team, please visit www.siyafundaonline.co.za