As part of its mission to promote knowledge and cooperation in cultural and educational opportunities across the globe, especially amongst the most vulnerable groups, the British Council in collaboration with Saide’s African Storybook Initiative, organised a week-long residential workshop in Abuja, Nigeria, from 12th to 16th March 2018, for the production of mother-tongue based multilingual storybooks. The workshop which was facilitated by two trainers from the African Storybook Initiative aimed to promote the arts, education and mother-tongue-based multilingual education in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Following a public call for application, 25 participants were selected from four West African countries: Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. Criteria for their selection included: Experience in language or literacy education, computer literacy skills, competency in reading and writing at least two or more indigenous African languages and English, being an unpublished writer of children’s stories, an interest in storybooks for children, and an original idea for a story or knowledge of a traditional indigenous story . Most participants strongly agreed that the workshop had met their expectations and by the end of the workshop, 20 draft storybook manuscripts had been developed in indigenous African languages including Hausa, Kanuri, Pidgin and English.
The workshop identified the lack of access to storybooks, especially in mother-tongue languages, at home and in schools as well as a lack of collaboration amongst writers, as factors to contributing to the low literacy levels of children in Sub-Saharan Africa. Key learnings included the gap caused by the lack of storybooks with content reflecting the African context for children in Sub-Saharan Africa, appropriate reading levels essential for promoting early literacy, page breaking (word counting per page), vocabulary selection, thumbnail sketching and other stages of illustration, ‘how to write little but packed with details interesting storybooks’, and, the importance of the three-way relationship between the writer,illustratorand editor in storybook manuscript development.
Download the document in the downloads section to learn more about the process of making the stories at the workshop.