On 9 February 2017, two Bible-based literacy booklets will appear in isiZulu for the first time. The Bible Society of South Africa is launching its literacy material at the Power of God Community Church in Embo near Hillcrest in KwaZulu-Natal. The event will start at 10:00.
The event will be attended by members of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education, the Department of Arts and Culture, as well as various church and community leaders.
The most important guests on the day, however, will be 300 Grade R, 1 and 2 learners from the Khanyakhwezi, iBambo, Vusumuzi, Gwadu Zenex and iPhoshane Primary Schools. Each one of these children will receive a set of the isiZulu literacy booklets.
This basic literacy project comprises two booklets, My first Bible Do and Learn Book (IBhayibheli lami Lokusebenzela nokufunda Incwadi-1) and My 2nd Bible Do and Learn Book (IBhayibheli lami Lokwenza nokufunda Incwadi-2) aimed especially at pre-primary school children and foundation phase learners (Grades R, 1 and 2).
The BSSA involved two qualified mother-tongue speakers to help with the development, translation and editing of the isiZulu booklets, the Rt Rev Sibusiso Lindani Zondi helped with the development and translation of the material and Mr Robert Mchunu was responsible for the editing.
Some years ago the Bible Society became aware of thousands of children in poorer areas who attend day care centres, but are not exposed to literacy at all. Many of these children do not have the privilege of attending Grade R (reception phase) and are often behind when they start Grade 1. When one compares these children's circumstances to those of children from advantaged homes who are exposed to some 400 hours of literacy before they begin school, it is evident that many marginalised children begin their schooling with a backlog that is hard to overcome.
After thorough research the Bible Society decided to develop Bible-based literacy material. The programme is based on the Do and Learn Method, developed by the late Dr Rose Botha, an educationalist, and which was graciously made available to the Bible Society. These booklets engage virtually all five senses to develop basic reading and writing. Teaching is made easy through the use of colourful illustrations, icons, flashcards and activities such as reading, writing, numeracy, drawing and singing.
The booklets are currently available in English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa, Sesotho and now also in isiZulu. The development of the material in Sepedi and all the other South African languages is underway.
In speaking about literacy, Rev Dirk Gevers, the Chief Executive Officer of the Bible Society, said, “I agree with UNESCO, that literacy is a fundamental human right and the foundation for lifelong learning. Literacy is an instrument of empowerment and has the ability to transform lives.The task of the Bible Society is community orientated and with this project we want to make a difference in our communities by providing a tool to give hope and to help our children to realise their full potential. Not only can these booklets contribute to the reading and writing abilities of our children, but children can also begin to discover the Bible, with its message that can truly transform lives.”