UNESCO AWARD PHOTOWe’re delighted to announce that FunDza has been awarded the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy 2017.

The prize, supported by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, rewards work that benefits rural populations and out-of-school youth, particularly girls and women. The award ceremony will take place on International Literacy Day, celebrated on 8 September, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. This year it focuses on literacy in a digital world.

The event brings together stakeholders and decision-makers from different parts of the world to examine how digital technology can help close the literacy gap and gain better understanding of the skills needed in today’s societies.

Says Mignon Hardie, executive director of FunDza, “We feel deeply honoured by this recognition for our work to get teens and young adults across South Africa reading and writing for pleasure. Thanks go to UNESCO and the Government of the People’s Republic of China for this incredible recognition for our work. Thanks too go to all the individuals and organisations that have supported and worked with our organisation since inception.”

The other two laureates receiving the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy are:

AdulTICoProgram of the Secretariat of Information and Communications Technologies of the city of Armenia (Colombia), for teaching digital competencies to seniors.

The Citizens Foundation (Pakistan) for its Aagahi Literacy Programme for Women and Out-of-School Girls, which conducts digital educational needs assessments and provides teaching services to support the education of younger girls and older women.

There are also two awards given for the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize, dedicated to mother-tongue literacy education and training, sponsored by the Republic of Korea. These go to:

Centre for the Study of Learning & Performance (CSLP) at Concordia University (Canada), for the Using Educational Technology to Develop Essential Educational Competencies in Sub-Saharan Africa project, which develops and distributes its material internationally free of charge.

We Love Reading (Jordan), a programme with a virtual community that offers online read-aloud trainings for parents, mobilises volunteers to read aloud in community spaces to children and provides age-appropriate material through a digital library.

Click here for the official UNESCO press release.

FunDza’s online platform – fundza.mobi – houses a library that is accessible through mobile phones, tablets and computers and is reaching thousands of young readers on a daily basis. FunDza is continuously creating new content for the platform to encourage young people to make reading a daily habit, and to inspire them to write too.

In the last financial year, fundza.mobi reached more than 570,000 individual readers. And, at present it is reaching around 70,000 committed readers each month, who read on average for 15 minute periods on their phones.

In addition to the online platform, FunDza is supporting beneficiary groups around the country with locally-created, exciting print books that ignite a love of reading. Since inception, FunDza has supported more than 500 groups who on average reach 100+ individual learners or readers. Through this network, FunDza is getting reading materials into the hands of those who need it most.

Mignon Hardie notes, “We believe that reading stories changes lives. We get incredible feedback from our readers who say that they are now able to read first thing in the morning or last thing at night thanks to fundza.mobi. They also share how stories are impacting on their lives – not only in terms of language acquisition but also through the power of stories to connect with their hearts and minds.”

Here are just a few quotes from readers saying what reading with FunDza has meant to them:

“What I enjoy on Fundza is I like reading some stories and almost it is true. Some stories made me think of how to be in life, how to fight battles and believe in yourself. I enjoy reading stories on Fundza.”
– Sibongile

“Whenever I get an update on the Fundza whatsapp contact about recent stories I don’t hesitate to forward the message to my friends and dive head first into reading them. They are by far the best short stories I’ve ever read and they sure know how to quench one’s thirst.”
– Mankgane

“Life and love lessons. I love reading the awesome stories writen by the brilliant writers. Some times i get carried away with reading that i even forget my house chores and burn pots while cooking!”
– Gugu

“I enjoy stories that are told by South Africans writers about South African people. It inspires me because I realize that there is too much talent and I’m happy that fundza is there for people who are book worms because a person who reads is an interesting person and interested in people.”
– Zanele

“It has improved my comprehension skills which still need polishing hence I need to join the online course but mostly fundza has inspired me to learn to be a writer because I’ve got an adventurous imagination and fundza has given me hope that one day I’ll will be able to write an award winning story.”
– Ngwane

“Since the stories are almost published in almost every South African languages I get to learn how to read and understand new languages and also learn some of the words I didn’t know that they even existed.”
– Lebogang

“From one of the stories I’ve read,I’ve learned that I should report a person who is violating human rights such as mistreating people with disability. Young people give up on their future because of the background they’re coming from, but I’ve learnt not ever to let the background I’m coming from describe who I am and to use the opportunity I’m given to build myself a better future.”
– Thato

“Fundza is more than just a website where we read but it is a page where we learn, experience and grow…it also helps people to solve their problems….there are stories that some of us relate to and in the end we find solutions…”
– Kabelo