For her Masters of Education research at the University of Witwatersrand, under the supervision of Dr Belinda Mendelowitz, Fatima Vally explored the impact that multimodal composition could have on the creative writing of a class of grade 7 learners. And, she used some of FunDza’s stories as models for the multimodal writing intervention.

FunDza staff were excited to hear her present the results of her masters study at the LITASA Conference, held at UCT in July 2019. She argues that despite many young people having been exposed to storytelling from their early years, many school learners and adults struggle with writing creatively. Prior research postulates that this may be due to the lack of relevance of school writing, which frequently fails to engage learners or spark imaginations. For her dissertation, Fatima Vally investigated whether using more relevant stories, and encouraging multimodal and multilingual compositions she could inspire more creative writing.

She selected two texts written by FunDza Fanz writers (these are young amateur writers who send in their work to be published online) and introduced these to a class of learners in an urban school in Gauteng. All learners came from poor households and were multilingual. The class was divided into groups of five and each group needed to produce stories that reflected what they encounter or experience in their communities. They had the freedom to choose the topic and the language or languages, if they decided to code-switch or use translanguaging.

The intervention had interesting results. Firstly Vally found that it was hard for the learners to break the convention of school essay writing: all essays were produced solely in English and using language that would be seen as ‘correct’. However, as the project progressed and the groups then started to translate their written essays into multimodal pieces so there was greater freedom and creative engagement.

Three groups chose to act out their stories and a fourth created a rap song. The performances were engaging and the learners found these exciting and felt comfortable speaking in their own language or the language appropriate to their character. Vally notes that they sparked ‘cultural appreciation’ and it ‘served as a safe space to explore and express issues that were relatable and important to them’.

We at FunDza were delighted to hear about her work and requested her to write a short summary of the project that we could share. Please download this HERE.


About Fatima Vally
Fatima Vally Essa is an ambitious postgraduate student at the Wits School of Education and holds a Bachelor of Education degree, BA honours degree in English Education and a Master of Education by Research degree. She has majored in English during her studies due to having an interest in languages and the use of multilingualism in language writing classrooms. Her specialisation is based on working simultaneously with multimodal and multilingual pedagogy and repertoires.

Her feminist nature and thrive for gender equality has allowed her to develop an interest in using a culturally relevant pedagogy and identifying how learners’ can work with their existing resources in school contexts. She uses learner identities to interrogate texts as a form of critical literacy and to create a socio-economic awareness.

Fatima believes that research is her contribution towards making a global impact and change in the education sector. With education, she aspires to inspire the youth of South Africa to achieve academic development and social justice through means of literacy education.