FunDza has been proud to be part of the NECT’s National Reading Coalition nearly since its inception. And, with lockdown, we were able to offer them online resources and support to teachers, learners and reading champions they work with.

Our latest collaboration has been an online Readathon. The NRC identified senior phase as an often-overlooked period, as there is support available for young readers from various organisations, but not much available to this age group – and these are critical years as learners transition to high school (or drop out…) So we created a closed online course available only to grades 7,8 and 9 learners who work with the NRC.

We selected three stories that we thought would appeal to this age group, and put them together for a short course. Participants had to register on and then use a course code to access this customised course. This is a slightly more complicated procedure than our normal open courses, and, in previous projects, we have seen how teachers are not always comfortable with digital literacy. Compounded with this challenge, we ourselves were not able advertise this competition on our social media or on our site, as many of our users do not fit into this category, and would complain at its exclusivity! So it was only publicised by the NRC, apart from a few teachers and organisations working with this age group whom we contacted individually.

The Readathon was launched at the beginning of October and will finish on 31 October. So far around 500 learners have registered, and 215 have completed the course. There are entrants from (in order of greatest number of entries) the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West, Western Cape, KZN.

The three scorers will receive R500 cash, and the school with the most entries will receive a donation of books.

Although the numbers are not as high as we had liked, we hope that these learners – and teachers – continue to visit And it has also shown that a ‘closed course competition is viable, but probably needs to be on for longer, and have more information/support sessions available for teachers, to ensure wide reach.