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Rally to READ gets village school children excited about books

Lisanda Ntimba from Nkambeni village near Hazyview in Mpumalanga is now the pride of her school in writing and reciting poems after reading books daily.

Lisanda, 11, on Saturday morning wowed her fellow pupils, teachers and visitors who came to deliver the annual reading materials by the READ educational programme, Rally to READ, at her school.

In a celebration ceremony at the school, Lisanda recited a poem that tells a story of how reading has empowered her in public speaking, reading and understanding her academic studies.

The grade 6 pupil said she has improved her reading and spelling after she got access to a variety of reading material and classroom mini-libraries that have been given to over 10 schools in her village and surrounding villages for the second year by the Rally to READ sponsored by Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa.

Dressed in her Swazi traditional fashionable gear, Lisanda spoke to Sowetan in the presence of her school teacher on Saturday morning.

"I recite my poems from the African literature books, and by compiling my own. My poems are inspired by my life in the village and my culture," said Lisanda.

Lisanda said she enjoys reading in Swati and English. "I can also read and understand a newspaper and the big words that are used there because my reading skills have been enriched in the past two years."

Lisanda, who performs at municipal events and in school competitions, said she would like to one day perform her favorite poems at a presidential event. "I dream of performing in a presidential inauguration one day and shake the crowds. I believe in storytelling and building others through words," she said.

A teacher from the school said the reading books have boosted the learning experience of pupils." We as teachers have noticed a great deal of improvement across all grades. When children have the proper reading material and learning equipment it becomes fun and real characters of the children develop quickly," said the teacher.

When Sowetan visited the schools the children were excited to demonstrate their drawing, reading,  writing and clay-moulding skills.

The parent of a grade 3 pupil Sindiswa Makhubele said her child can now read fluently and she has seen positive results because her son now reads with understanding. "He struggled in the beginning but after daily reading and assessment he can now do an unprepared speech and confidently read and write," she said. 

Makhubele said schools in the villages have always had fewer facilities, leaving pupils disadvantaged. "We never had these opportunities in our times, it was strictly learning, but with these programmes and change of times our children get exciting and fun materials that make learning different. With us it was all with limited resources and it was not fun."

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