National Book Week (NBW) concludes #GOINGPLACES on a high note at the Steve Biko Center in the Eastern Cape. Friday saw the perfect ending to a busy, but fun week of criss-crossing the country for those aboard the NBW Tour Bus.
The atmosphere was electric with excitement inside the Steve Biko Centre in King Williamstown, as learners from local schools mingled, played, learned and enjoyed an afternoon packed with activities.
Seeing the enraptured faces of the Grade 3-5 learners from St Thomas School for the Deaf as they enjoyed the Wordathon was a spectacular sight to behold. As children who rely on the written word and sign language to communicate, their enthusiasm was especially touching to witness. They made sure to share their passion by victoriously running up to the nearest adult every time they got a word right.
Teacher Ntombekhaya Dimbasa was excited that her young charges got to be part of the NBW programme. She explained that one of their biggest challenges at St Thomas School for the Deaf was that most learners come from hearing households, which leaves them with limited sign language skills. “We have to start at the bottom, because – even if they are read to – whether they understand or not is something else,” said Dimbasa. “Using picture books is the best way to make the children learn concepts and see stories.”
Another group that had a great time were Grade 11s from Matsa High School. They loved the poetry and hip hop session with Nancy G and Hitman CEO, and five learners even got to show off their freestyle rapping and singing skills.
Matsa High School’s Grade Eight and 11 teacher, Sipho Mfiki, was left optimistic that the day’s activities would have a long-lasting impact on his learners. “Learners don’t generally read for leisure because they lack access. Our school is in a rural area and the nearest libraries are in town, which is too far for them. I’m glad that they have the opportunity to take part in the NBW programme. It’s very rare and they look motivated by all that they have done today,” he said.
Proud Grade 2 teacher at Ginsberg Seventh Day Adventist Primary School, Nikiwe Mjukujo, said her learners were ardent readers. Mjukujo, whose learners read in English and isiXhosa, said she emphasises the importance of reading by making learners report back each morning on something they read the night before that isn’t necessarily school work. “I tell them they have to read something every day to make their brains grow,” she laughed. There isn’t a library at their school but they do have reading corners in each classroom with books that they can take home. Mjukujo said she knows her learners in particular have a good reading culture at home because they often tell her they got their parents to read to them.
Learners from all the schools were enamoured with the NBW mascot, Funda Bala, playing and having fun with him.
By the end of the afternoon, the exuberant group was beaming from ear-to-ear as they waved goodbye to the NBW Tour group.