Funda Sonke Wants Young People Involved In The Reading Revolution

Sandton, South Africa - February 1, 2019: Nal'ibali, a South African reading initiative attempts to break their previously set World Record, by reaching 1.5 Million children on World Read Aloud Day. Children from across South Africa took part in various events in schools and libraries. The main event, saw hundreds of children reading with author and activist, Lebohang Masango, who gave a multilingual reading at the Sandton Library in Johannesburg, South Africa. Picture: DANIEL BORN for NAL'IBALI

Nal’ibali is an organisation which wants to get South Africa reading, by organising the annual South African version of World Read Aloud Day. Now they want to get more young people involved in starting literacy programmes in their communities. The Daily Vox team spoke to Petunia Thulo from Nal’ibali about the programme.

Who are Funda Leaders?

Literacy volunteers at Nal’ibali are known as FUNda leaders. Funda means a love for reading in isiXhosa. It was launched in 2016 as a response from the public who said how can they get involved. Literacy activists wanted to know what they can do to help. It was launched as a network that really brings South Africans into the Nal’ibali campaign to support the work we are doing in their communities whether it is mentoring or teaching children to love and enjoy stories. That’s how it came about.

I understand you’ve launched a new programme. Please tell me about it.

FUNda Leaders fall under the Funda Sonke programme. Funda Sonke is part of Nal’ibali which we launched in April. It’s a loyalty programme for existing literature volunteers known FUNda Leaders. There’s about 17 000 literature volunteers around the country. That is why we decided that it makes sense to go to the next level and introduce a Funda Sonke loyalty programme.

Why was the programme launched?

We felt the need to have an incentive for our literacy volunteers where they will be encouraged to keep doing what they are doing. This loyalty programme works in that the members can earn points by completing online courses. It’s a win-win situation. You can have access to the online training resources. Literacy volunteers can start a reading club or volunteer at after-school programmes.

FUNda Sonke members can earn points by completing online training courses and taking part in monthly literacy challenges. Points accumulated through participating in various activities can be redeemed for books, airtime and subscriptions to the Nal’ibali multilingual newsprint supplement.

Who can volunteer as a FUNda leader?

Anybody can get involved who has a love for being a part of the literacy solution in our country and anybody for whom literacy is a priority to them. With the Funda Sonke loyalty programme we are aiming to get more young people involved. We are talking about high school learners and students at universities. We want to get more young South Africans involved in taking part. It is something that you can do online and you can give one hour at a local school or two hours. You can give whatever time you have.

There were popup events from April 8-12 to launch the programme. How did those go?

The pop-up events have been successful. Our literacy mentors have been in seven provinces across the country and they have been going to schools and high schools to get more young people involved and to raise awareness. They have been telling people that Nal’ibali just launched their loyalty programme. The activations have been to share the information and to raise awareness. It’s also to get people signed up to become Funda leaders. People were able to sign up on the spot. The mentor didn’t only go into schools. They also went to public spaces like taxi ranks to spread the information and get people to sign up.

More information on the programme can be found on

The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Featured image provided by Nalibali by Daniel Born