Twenty six learners from Ifalethu Primary School in Nyongane near Hazyview in Mpumalanga have written books in isiSwati and English. The Grade 4 to 7 learners were offered a writing course by Bala Books – a children’s books publishing company.
Most of the children are from underprivileged families. However, the kids gave up a week of their holidays and travelled to Gauteng, embarking on the programme that began in 2018.
The learners say they gained valuable experience. Their books are mostly for children with different themes.
Some of them are now considering book writing as a career. They say the initiative has improved their writing and reading skills.
“Now when the teacher comes and give us an essay to write I always get a 100% because what they teach us was very great, by knowing who are characters, what is a theme or a plot. I didn’t know these things before. I am happy that now I’m a author,” says one young author.
Bala Books was established seven years ago and has produced about 250 children’s books.
Founder of Bala Books, Glad Kaiser, says the learners wrote their own stories and received assistance in translating and editing. Kaiser says the group responded very well.
“By doing this we begin to see more kids being authors and these kids becoming kid authors, not only that but also earning royalties from book sales. We creating generational wealth, social economic transformation that is what Bala books is for.”
MEC for Education, Bonakele Majuba, has hailed the initiative as a step in the right direction. Majuba hopes the initiative will reach more schools in the province.
“It responds to the call by President Ramaphosa that we must make sure that there is reading for comprehension and understanding for all learners throughout the country and we also think that it’s also good because as it promotes writing skills for our indigenous languages.”
Some private sector companies committed to purchase the children’s books and distribute them locally and neighbouring countries.
The books will also be placed in school libraries.