Church of Sweden

ALMA prizewinner brings joy of reading to Church of Sweden’s partner organisation

Press release   •   Jun 01, 2015 10:00 BST

The Church of Sweden’s partner in South Africa, Philani, focuses on encouraging children to discover the joy of learning to read and write.

Today the South African organisation PRAESA is receiving the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) 2015. The award is the largest and most important in the world for children’s and young adult literature, with prize money of SEK 5 million. The news is particularly pleasing for the Church of Sweden’s partner in South Africa, Philani, which works with children’s health, development and education in collaboration with PRAESA on the reading-for-enjoyment and reading promotion project “Nal’ibali”.

“Nal’ibali” means “here is your story” in the Xhosa language. In preschools and primary schools, children are encouraged to read, listen to and share stories every day. On Wednesdays, volunteers visit Philani’s preschools to read together with the children. The children call these days “Happy Wednesdays”.

The Church of Sweden and Philani have been working together since 1988 to ensure children are in good health and get an education. ”Nal’ibali” helps in this work by boosting children’s self-esteem and nurturing their ability and desire to read and learn.

“Here at Philani we’re delighted that the ALMA award has been given to PRAESA. Every day, play and the joy of reading are at the heart of both the mentor mothers’ work with families and in the preschools’ approach to learning. Play strengthens the relationship between mum and child, and reading is key to enabling children to make the most of their education. Each child – every Pippi, Emil and Ronja – in South Africa’s vulnerable areas should have equal and fair opportunities for a good future,” says Herman Hallonsten, the Church of Sweden’s employee at Philani.

PRAESA and “Nal’ibali” want to contribute towards creating a society in South Africa where daily reading is a natural part of the lives and culture of children and young adults. Children who are motivated to read of their own accord have more opportunities in school, at work and in higher education.

“The fact that the ALMA award is being given to PRAESA is really encouraging for South Africa’s children and young people. They are suffering as a result of an education system in crisis, which is contrary to Mandela’s vision of a society built on education, equality and socioeconomic justice,” says Herman Hallonsten.

“The problems show that the legacy of apartheid is strong and that a healthy democracy can only be established when children and young people have access to a good education. At Philani we share our partner PRAESA’s happiness and we are further strengthened in our holistic work of promoting children’s health, education and right to fellowship.”

The ALMA jury’s citation reads:

With the joy of reading as its compass point, PRAESA opens new routes into the world of books and literature for young readers in South Africa.Through innovative reading and storytelling projects, PRAESA brings people together and brings literature in multiple languages alive.PRAESA’s outstanding work shows the crucial role of books and stories in creating rich lives for children and young people.

Philani’s Mentor Mother Programme

Young mothers living in highly vulnerable situations receive support from mentor mothers. With the Philani model as a successful example, the Church of Sweden is supporting the training of mentor mothers in cooperation with local churches and organisations in Swaziland and Ethiopia. Find out more about the programme.

More info about Philani’s Educare programme