FunDza has renamed the beneficiary groups it supports with its reading, writing and learning programmes as the ‘FunDza Family’. Groups have to apply to become part of the ‘Family’ and are accepted if they fit certain criteria, i.e. groups need to be reaching people within our target range (young people between the ages of 13 and 25 from low-income communities with limited access to reading resources), and they need to have a dedicated ‘Champion’ who manages FunDza’s programme and ensures that resources are well-used.
In October/November 2017, we sent out surveys to our Family groups to get feedback specifically on the book distribution programme called ‘Reading for Pleasure’. There were a lot of interesting outcomes and learnings. Here are some of the key findings that we’d like to share with you.
The fact that FunDza is based in the Western Cape comes in handy to the groups situated in that particular area. This is proven by the number of most respondents coming from the province, followed by the other big provinces such as Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal. Most groups in provinces outside the Western Cape complain about lack of visits from FunDza. We know that these face-to-face encounters are key to relationship building. So, we are continuing in our efforts to gather our Family groups into one place when we visit different provinces to try to develop these more personal relationships.
The other key finding we came across is that groups tend to attract more girl than boy readers. This has been noted in the outcomes from surveys from previous years. We noticed, however, that two groups indicated that they had more boy readers than girls. Both of these groups also ran sports programmes, which seemed to be more popular with boys, hence this change.
Size of groups:
On average groups supported 100 readers. But there was a big difference in sizes – some groups only had 20 regular readers, while others were supporting around 300 regular readers. We are trying to see how we can cater better for these different sized groups.
Popularity of content:
The Harmony High Series, Sugar Daddy in particular, always come out tops in terms of popularity. FunDza responded to this popularity by continuing the series with a new title ‘Playing with Fire’ in 2017. The boys however also let their voice to be heard as they expressed love for the series Soccer Season. This series was commissioned by FunDza to try to reach more boys with our books.
The anthologies, made up of short stories and poems, took second place in terms popularity, and it seems we have reluctant readers to thank for this finding. This shows the impact of our books: most groups indicated to have seen some positive change when it came to reading. Some groups from primary school level requested more material to cater for this group. At the moment only the Shadow Chasers series caters for this lower age level. We have had some reports that older learners have also enjoyed this series.
Frequency of reading:
Beneficiaries reported that frequent readers enjoyed reading more, became better at reading, their grades improved because of reading and they became more confident. This is a postive finding that encourages FunDza to continue our support of our FunDza Family who have shown their appreciation as demonstrated in their responses.
In terms of other platforms for FunDza content, i.e. FunDza’s mobi-site, most groups indicated that they did not actively advertise the site. Many said that they knew about it but did not know how to promote it with their group. We can see that presentations for our Family groups about the mobi-site are an important need. We aim to find ways to include more training for groups – whether by running workshops for general use and online – in the programme. Again, this is easier for us to do for those groups that are close at hand. We hope to find ways to visit more provinces to expand the training aspect in the future.
Use of activity books:
Family groups running reading clubs also received activity booklets for two of the titles delivered in the middle of 2017 – #CantStopReading and Playing with Fire. The survey found that around half of the groups had used at least some of the activities included in the activity booklets. This was pleasing to note. It was interesting to note that most groups had started with the anthology #CantStopReading but – due to lack of time – hadn’t got to use the Playing with Fire activities.
Family groups were sent the activity booklets electronically and this proved a challenge in usage for some. As a result we will be sending print versions of these activity booklets in the future. The most popular type of activity included in the booklets was the discussions.
Areas for improvement:
Most groups said the time for book delivery was very late. Apparently some schools or organisations run their reading group sessions when schools are closed in the June/July holidays. The main distribution of books happened at the beginning of the third term which meant that groups didn’t have the books for that holiday period. We plan to run the mid-year delivery in June – before the holidays – this coming year to combat this problem.
Other suggestions for improvement or making the project more interesting included:
- Inclusion of incentives, i.e. FunDza branding e.g. T-shirts giveaways
- More books on different topics, i.e. career choices
- Introduction of competitions
- Reading outings and fun activities
Another problem that groups encountered was that books often became damaged with extensive reading. Some groups also said that some readers took longer than expected to read books, which meant that they were out of circulation for periods of time, with other readers becoming impatient with waiting. Some groups indicated that readers would fight over the books, due to the limited number that they received.
While these might seem negative, it also shows that there is a significant impact and that the books are encouraging a love of reading. This is illustrated beautifully in a response from Youth Potential SA in Eastern Cape which stated:
“The main impact right now is the excitement about reading that is developing in the 6 rural villages and rural schools they are currently circulating. Now whenever I am in the village, more than one young person always approaches me and tells me what book they are reading and something about it. Without my asking them any questions, they immediately speak to me about what they learned and how it helps them to reflect on something in their life, resolve an issue, or opens their mind to new possibilities. This means to me that the books they are reading really hit home! They can’t wait for more book titles. The only complaint I have heard is that they had to wait to borrow a particular title they heard was really great and were impatient 🙂 Some kids have taken to reading the books together. They also love to discuss the books with each other. It is giving them such a spark to have the FunDza books to read!”
We’re excited to hear that the books are making a difference and will be looking at ways to improve the programme and build on this success in 2018.