Based in Cape Town, PRAESA, Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa, is an organisation that has worked to promote reading and literature for children and young people in South Africa since 1992. The 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.
For more than twenty years, PRAESA has made powerful, innovative moves to highlight literature as a key component of both personal and societal development, always grounded in the specific conditions of South African society and culture. Its work focuses on encouraging children to read for enjoyment, building their self-esteem, and helping them connect to their native language through reading and story.
PRAESA has three core goals: to provide children with high-quality literature in the various South African languages; to collaborate with and foster new networks among publishers and organisations that promote reading; and to initiate and carry out activities that can help sustain a living culture of reading and storytelling in socially vulnerable communities. PRAESA works in constant dialogue with the latest research and in collaboration with volunteers at the grass roots level.
To encourage children to read in their native languages, PRAESA produced the Little Hands books, a series of short books in different African languages. Another project, the Vulindlela Reading Club, combined oral storytelling with reading, singing games, and dramatizations, and led to the formation of many more reading clubs in Cape Town and other provinces. The national reading promotion initiative Nal’ibali is a network of reading clubs that uses media campaigns to encourage children to read and inspire parents, grandparents, and teachers to read with them.
In 2014, PRAESA received the Asahi Reading Promotion Award, a prize instituted by the International Board on Books for Young People, IBBY.