Nyanga primary schools joined forces with the Nyanga Arts Development Centre’s Community Arts Programme for a World Book Day Festival to celebrate Freedom Day, on April 27.
The Community Arts Programme, under the umbrella of the Department of Arts and Culture, was established to equip people with skills in the visual arts, poetry, literature and crafts.
The programme aims to create career opportunities for people of all ages.
Organisers of the festival want it to become synonymous with literacy and fun. Those attending on Friday were also treated to chilled marimba music.
The day saw over 100 pupils from Linge, Liwa, Mkhanyiseli, St Mary, Walter Teka and John Pama primary schools take part in a spelling bee, storytelling and poetry performances.
Retired teachers were the judges for the day.
Nosisana Nama, manager at the Nyanga Arts Development Centre, said they worked with 38 schools in and around Nyanga. She said they decided to pilot the World Book Day Festival where schools can take part in all forms of reading, poetry, drama and music.
She said the aim was to allow children to have fun but read at the same time in an easy and enjoyable environment.
“We have a literature problem where our kids struggle to read. We want to make reading fun and playful. In future we want to assist schools to have libraries and reading clubs,” said Ms Nama.
She said at the festival children had to come up with storylines, poems and mostly just read.
“This is to encourage them to read and be artists. We want to see that creativity in their work. We have retired teachers who help us with the curriculum and grammar,” she said
Community Arts Programme manager, Mthetho Mzongwana, said the programme is national and focuses on encouraging everyone to read.
Mr Mzongwana said the centre will activate programmes that are aimed at taking children off the streets during the holidays. “We aim to take children off the streets by motivating them to read, do art and other things. The department is also helping us in that regard. We are happy to have children who are willing to learn and take their books seriously,” he said.
The event was lauded by the retired teachers who said it was important that children are kept busy even during the holidays.
Former Vukukhanye Primary School principal, Nonceba Sellem, from Gugulethu, said the event helped children with storytelling, spelling and grammar.
She said she was happy to be part of the event.
“We need to see and check, do they know what they are reading, do they spell words correctly and their projection of words when doing poetry,” she said.
Her words were echoed by lecturer at Athlone College, Sonwabo Sompetha, who stressed that children need to know that freedom comes with responsibility.
“That they are here today is for their own personal upliftment and development. It is important that they are kept busy. They must prepare and plan accordingly in life,” he said.
The children were happy to be part of the event.
Simamkele Mtwazi from Ilinge Primary and Lunje Mkhinde from Liwa Primary, both enjoyed the day.
Simamkele said she was excited to perform poetry while Lunje said he enjoyed interacting with other children from other schools.