Reading can be boring if the stories do not resonate with the lives of readers. The Ducere Foundation knows this, and aims to provide an African alternative in children’s literature.
All too often, library shelves and school bags are filled with Western stories that have little or no relevance to the reality of primary schoolchildren in Africa. But the foundation’s African Children’s Stories Program is leading the way with an innovative initiative that aims to one day publish and distribute African children’s stories from each and every African nation.
Julia Gillard, the former prime minister of Australia and its former minister of education, is the chancellor of Ducere and chair of the board of directors of its Global Partnership for Education. She was in South Africa earlier this month to celebrate the foundation’s African Children’s Stories Program roll-out.
Ducere has partnered with Monash South Africa (MSA), a leading private higher education provider founded by Monash University (Australia) and a member of Laureate International Universities, for the roll-out of the latest collection of stories. They were written by local South African pupils.
While she was in Johannesburg, Gillard visited Zandspruit Primary School, where she encouraged the children to keep writing and to make their education a priority.
“Education, employability and entrepreneurship begin at grassroots level, from the support of basic education and literacy to the preparation of students for today’s global economy,” she said.
The MSA and Ducere collaboration is made possible through the MSA student-led programme, This is Me, which promotes children’s creative thinking, storytelling and literacy skills to support their academic and personal growth.
“We will continue publishing stories written by African children, for African children to be shared across the globe,” said Di Fleming, the chief executive of the Ducere Foundation. “We encourage and celebrate literacy from a young age, and empower the young learners to embrace their African culture.”
MSA distributed hundreds of these stories to schools through its campus community engagement programmes.
Esther Benjamin, the chief executive of MSA and of Africa operations for Laureate International Universities, believes this project, one of many MSA outreach programmes, strengthens students’ passion for volunteering as part of their personal development, gives them an opportunity to make important contributions to the community, and equips them with valuable skills for leadership and entrepreneurial thinking.
An example of African Children Stories from Rwanda (Collection 22).
“By facilitating important conversations on education’s link to building robust economies and skilled marketplaces, we strive to be a leading change agent in South Africa and beyond,” she said.
“We pride ourselves on local relevancy as well as a global perspective. We work with an extensive global network of thought leaders to ensure that our graduates are equipped for the global business environment as well as for entrepreneurial initiatives relevant to the marketplace.”
Gillard’s visit culminated in a panel discussion that included prominent business, NGO, and community leaders.
At the discussion, Gillard and Benjamin spoke about the challenges and opportunities for students in the global marketplace. It was emphasised that students needed to pursue academic excellence along with cultivating essential life and personal skills for employability and entrepreneurship.
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