About Us

Unlocking children’s school success, Story Powered Schools is a pilot project bringing the Nalíbali reading-for-enjoyment campaign’s proven approach to literacy development to select rural schools in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.

With one third of children in South Africa functionally illiterate and the highest concentration living in rural areas, the project aims to not only show these children new ways to engage with and experience books, but to demonstrate to educators how reading for pleasure in mother tongue languages as well as English can support curriculum objectives and boost children’s literacy development.

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Project Partners

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) is one of the departments of the South African government. It oversees primary and secondary education in South Africa and aims to develop, maintain, and support a South African school education system for the 21st century. In a bid to help improve the reading abilities of all SA children, the department has launched a literacy campaign titled, Read to Lead, which further supports the work of the Story Powered Schools project.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realise their potential. In South Africa, USAID programs include the promotion of primary grade reading.

Nal'ibali (isiXhosa for ‘Here’s the story’) is a national reading-for-enjoyment campaign to spark children’s potential through storytelling and reading. Nal'ibali is built on the simple logic that a well-established culture of reading can be a real game-changer for education in South Africa wtih literacy skills being a strong predictor of future academic success in all school subjects.


Reflection and learning is essential at Nal'ibali. Through listening to our field team and evaluating data, we have noted some learnings that could positively impact future programme success in rural school settings. 

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Nal'ibali’s research and innovation team conducted some qualitative research in 2018, by visiting 10 schools from the 2017 school cohort and six schools from the 2018 cohort. The research approach consisted of 29 semi-structured interviews and focus groups with 54 different stakeholders. A variety of different reading-based activities were observed.


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