A student from the University of Cape Town (UCT) has developed a digital library that aims to encourage children to read more with uniquely South African stories.
Qhawe Bula, a second-year Bachelor of Social Sciences, and his team entered the 2020 Entrepreneurship Intervarsity competition. The digital library, titled TAQA, excelled in the business ideas category at the regional round of the Entrepreneurship Intervarsity competition in July.
The team invented a digital library that includes various read-along children’s audiobooks written in South Africa’s 11 official languages.
TAQA’s overall goal is to increase and foster a culture of literature and reading among children.
According to UCT, more than 70 percent of grade four learners are unable to read.
With this in mind, TAQA was developed for children between the ages of two and nine years old. By providing stories in the official South African languages, the children will be able to read stories in their mother tongue. This will enable children to learn and understand a second language while also advancing their reading capabilities in their mother tongue.
In an interview with UCT, Bula explains the main aim of the new digital reading platform.
“TAQA’s main aim is to protect and celebrate African cultures and identities. We believe that by leveraging language and technology we can go a long way towards achieving this goal,” Bula said.
Nal’ibali, an internationally recognised, award-winning literacy non-profit organisation, has partnered with Bula and his team to provide audiobook podcasts in seven South African languages.
Bula added that he and his team were open to partnering with the government and other organisations in order to make TAQA easily accessible to children “from all socio-economic backgrounds.”’
TAQA aims to provide learners with proudly South African stories that they are able to relate to and understand on a social level and more.
In addition to facilitating a love for reading among children, TAQA hopes that the digital platform will inspire storytelling.
“We believe that it’s important for young South Africans to see themselves and their languages represented and celebrated in mainstream storytelling. We are committed to telling proudly South African stories,” Bula said.
Bula explained that with TAQA their goal is to break down language barriers and help learners improve their proficiency in their mother tongue. He further added that any language is a key tool for expressing one’s thoughts, identity, and history.
“The loss of a language is not just the loss of an easily replaceable medium of instruction. It’s also the loss of libraries, histories, and identities,” Bula concluded.
Originally published by Venture Burn