This was the second biennial conference organised by LIASA and SLYSIG of school librarians from all over the country. There were department officials, subject advisers and teachers attending, all with the common purpose of getting young people excited about reading.
There was a range of presentations; however as I was also manning the stand for our books, I only managed to go to a few. I heard about Angels of Tomorrow, an NGO doing interesting work in the North West, and also had fun in a Nal’ibali workshop with Righardt Le Roux, whose popular workshop had teachers doing and talking, not just listening. In a plenary discussion it was depressing to hear from the British speaker, John Iona, that school libraries in Britain are not a formal requirement, and do not score any of the all-important ‘points’ desired for their very top-down Ofsted inspections. And this from the country that produced the research that shows a conclusive link between reading for pleasure and academic achievement! It was good to hear our own department officials recognise the importance of libraries, and getting quality reading material to our own children.
I presented a short introduction to our work at the FunDza Literacy Trust. Many teachers had not heard of it, but there were some FunDza beneficiaries who were there, and it is always so exciting to meet someone who you have been corresponding with, and who will now become someone real, not just an email address!
I also met Anathi Nyadu, our young writer who is studying for Honours in Media Studies at UJ. He writes our fictional Zinzi Zwane blog, and I am always impressed at his sensitive work writing from a young girl’s perspective. He has also written a moving story for Mandela Day – do look out for that.
Another beneficiary I visited on my way to the airport was Tessa Ndlovu – someone with whom I have had much correspondence, so it was lovely to meet her. She is very inspiring in her work in spoken poetry with young people in Bloemfontein and we were happy to be able to supply her with some prizes for her next workshop.
So a brief but interesting visit to the Free State and it’s beautiful blue skies!