According to UNESCO, 38% of adults in Africa are illiterate – the equivalent to 2,5 times the entire population of the United Kingdom. Out of these, two thirds are women. Africa is the only continent where more than half of parents are not able to help their children with homework due to illiteracy.
Adult literacy rates are below 50% in more than 10 African countries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. And it gets worse because only 1% of national education budget of most African governments is earmarked to address the issue of literacy.
The situation is alarming as literacy is a crucial step to acquire the basic skills needed to cope with the many challenges children, youth and adults will face throughout their lives.
The Golden Baobab Prize (GBP) is a literary award that discovers, nurtures and celebrates promising writers of African children’s literature. It was created in 2008, with the objective to address the issue of insufficient quality children’s books in Africa, that are relevant to African children, from the cultural and social points of view. In the context above, literacy is not even properly stimulated, so you can probably imagine the negative effect it has on literature and how it is important that there are more relevant African writers, and therefore more African voices talking to Africans and to the world.
The Golden Baobab wants to inspire and nurture the creation of more enthralling African children storybooks, and by doing so they want to foster a sense of self-worth and national/continental pride among children in Africa. They want to create a world full of wonder and possibilities, one African children’s story at a time.
And to do that, they need to spread the word about the working they are doing to attract more corporate partners, that will sponsor the publication of books, the award itself, and help valorising African writers and illustrators – and that’s what TIE is going to help them achieve.