Written by Amna Singh
StoryWeaver believes that every child deserves to have access to joyful reading material in her mother tongue. In November 2018, we opened applications to educators, translators, literacy organisations, and everyone else working with children to promote reading -- in our quest for partners to help build a 100 local language libraries of children’s books in underserved languages by International Mother Language Day on February 21, 2019 .
We were seeking partners with relevance of work and expertise in language and translations, and above all, a shared vision of equity in access for all. We got over 225 applications from all over the globe – each application inspiring us with their exemplar work in the field of literacy and language for the under-represented communities.
Based on our guidelines, relevance of work and a rigorous evaluation, we have selected 16 organisations and 28 individual language champions to partner with us to build these digital local libraries.
Selected Organisations: Target Languages
Azad India Foundation: Surjapuri
BookDash: 11 official South African languages
SNS Foundation: Marwari
CODE- Ethiopia: Amharic, Afaan Oromoo
African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA): Igbo, Hausa, Fante, Ewe, Yoruba, Kikiyu, Luganda and Swahili
Global Forum 4 Literacy: Zulu, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Tswana and Arabic
Suchana Uttor Chandipur Community Society: Santali, Kora, Bilinguals
Aripana Foundation: Maithili
Little Readers' Nook: Tulu, Kutchi, Marwari …
Unnati Institute for Social and Educational Change: Korku
North East Educational Trust: Assamese, Bodo
Brightstart Pre Primary school and Learning Centre : Marwari
Libreo.ph: Tagalog, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Tausug/Maranao and Ilokano
Darakht-e Danesh Library: Pashto
Every English: Brazilian Portuguese
REHMA: English-Urdu bilinguals
The selected language champions will help build local libraries across 24 languages.
Target Languages: Selected Language Champions:
Bambara: Kirsty Paxton
Basa Jawa (Javanese): Maharani Aulia
Bundelkhandi: Ankit Dwivedi, Krishna Murary Upadhyay
Chinyanja: Agnes Nankhoma Singine Nyendwa
Garhwali: Shweta Rawat
GSB Konkani: Sujith Kamath
Kirundi: Melchiade Ntibazonkiza, Adolphe Ndagijimana
Kumaoni: Somya Budhori , Richa Pathak Pant,
Kuvi/Jatapu: Markose K C
Malay: David Loiuson
Malvani: Rupali Bodekar
Malvi: Omprakash Kshatriya
Ndebele: Ntando Titus Ntaka
Pawari: Amit Dudave
Pashto: Nighat Kamdar
Sanskrit: Meenakshi Sundaram K B, Priya Bhakthan
Serbian: Ana Jovic
Sindhi (Devanagari Script): Bharti
Sindhi (Arabic Script): Zaib-un-Nisa
Vietnamese: Nguyen Dac Thai Hang
Thank you for your initiative, we will get in touch with all selected partners for the next steps.
And a BIG thank you to everyone who applied. StoryWeaver is truly a result of your constant support, and contributions. We will do our best to reach out to you and explore alternate ways to collaborate. Thank you, again, and happy holidays!
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Writer, translator, editor and poet Agnes N.S. Nyendwa has always been best friends with books — right from her days as a warehouse clerk where she read up all the books in stock to her rise to an editor with publishing houses. Along the way, she was always passionate about her mother tongue Chinyanja, a language belonging to the Bantu language system of Africa and spoken widely across Malawi, Zambia and the Mozambique. Agnes is translating books on the StoryWeaver platform to her mother tongue and tells us in an email interview on why children need to read more stories in Chinyanja in her country and how she plans to make sure that more of them have access to these books.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a writer, translator, editor, poet (English and Chinyanja), president of the Zambia Women Writers Association and Vice chairman of the National Arts Council, and have been in publishing circles since 1994. I started off as a Warehousing clerk being the first employee to have been engaged in that position at Macmillan Publishers Zambia Limited. I studied Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) and emerged as best student in the field. In my job as a warehouse clerk, I became friends with a bunch of books which I took time to read and enjoy. I cultivated the culture of reading each and every book that was in the warehouse. I later knew each book by its content and what to present if anyone wanted to buy any book in any field. I made it a point after that to read any new title as it came.
Due to the immense interest that I had in books, I was promoted to be Assistant Editor when the Zambia curriculum transitioned into a new one. My first assignment was to handle local languages because the whole project was a challenge. I managed to have the project take off and in the process I was seconded for an in-house training at Oxford Macmillan Education in the UK, which later catapulted me to be an Editor of the organisation back home.
What is your personal relationship to Chinyanja and to translation?
Apart from learning the language at school, Chinyanja/Chichewa is actually my mother’s language. As it is truly my mother’s tongue – my parents (my mother being a teacher by profession) made sure we honed the skill of speaking and writing it. They would not allow us to mix any other language when speaking with them, let alone writing to them. We were encouraged to read Chinyanja/Chichewa books, which I certainly do even now. This made us know the language without measure. Our home was our training ground for the local language where neighbours would be amazed at how we spoke it even when we grew up in a low density area where only people with high education lived. Friends would laugh at our tongue because sometimes they would request us to interpret the words we spoke.
Later in life I still had a challenge convincing my husband that the words I spoke were actual Chinyanja/Chichewa. He thought that as a family we had developed a language that we alone would understand not until I bought a dictionary from a bookstore in Malawi. He took time to refer to it on every word that he thought was specific to my family. He was amazed to have found the very words in the dictionary.
That is the power of teaching a child her mother tongue. It is easy for me to understand other languages because I can relate them to my own. I now thank my parents for imparting that priceless skill to me. I look at myself as one of those who is open to learning and embraces criticisms when it comes to the local languages. I have written and translated a number of books that are currently being read in schools.
You have been translating STEM stories. Describe the process to us. Would this process be different for a joyful picture book?
The process is not easy when you are just starting as a translator of STEM books. The process is quite challenging because of the absence of indigenous terminologies for certain concepts and words in general. STEM books have a lot of these non-indigenous terms. But by using the meaning approach and transliteration, the challenge is quite eased. I actually enjoy translating them because I get to understand and impart the terms in a way that are simple to grasp.
I don’t find picture books to be any different from other story books because each book presents its own challenges, some may be grammatical or orthographical but rising to the challenge is what makes translating any book unique and adventurous.
How do you plan to take the Chinyanja stories to the children?
In our society, doing a venture totally free can be quite challenging because the conveyor of the message needs finances to operate. I would love to have every child who is stationed in a Chinyanja belt to get hold of these wonderful stories. It is a fact that a bigger chunk of my country cannot access internet which can be a transmission port for these books. I need them printed in hard copies so that they are distributed for children to have and read wherever they are, with friends and family.
My plan is to raise funds that can allow me to print and probably sell at a nominal price and for them to be spread where their relevance is. If I can find funds that can allow me to print and transport the books, I don’t think there will be any need to sell them but to distribute them to libraries and have them approved for use in schools. For those who are able to browse on the internet, sending the link to people I know and other official arts and educational platforms is helping to spread the books. I have actually started sending the link and people are reading them.
What do you usually read? Which language do you prefer to read in?
Yes I do read quite a lot. A good story is what prompts my language of preference. I do read in Chinyanja and English as well as other Zambian languages that I have quite a considerable amount of knowledge.
A glimpse of the stories Agnes is translating to Chinyanja on StoryWeaver. You can read these stories here.
Thank you Agnes! May your tribe increase!
Write in to us at [email protected] if you want us to add your native language.Be the first to comment.
International Mother Language Day is celebrated annually on 21 February to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity, and multilingualism.
The ability to read is the ability to learn, to explore, and to imagine. But without books to read, how will children become readers?
How will we do this?
By supporting our partners with the selection of suitable books for their children. The books encompass a range of reading levels and themes, including Early Readers, Bilinguals, STEM storybooks, as well as the Curated Reading Programme.
Training them to translate quickly and efficiently.
Conducting editorial masterclasses tailored to their needs, and more
The last date for applications: March 07, 2021
Pratham Books reserves the final rights to select partners.
Selected partners will sign a letter of understanding with Pratham Books.
Only selected partners will be eligible for translation support and mentoring.
Applications for building digital libraries in languages with few or no books will be given preference over those in mainstream languages or languages that already have a digital library of 100 storybooks on StoryWeaver.
Applicants with basic digital infrastructure and language resources to create a local digital library will also be given preference.
All content created and published by you / your organisation on StoryWeaver as part of the 'Freedom to Read 2020' campaign will by default be licensed under CC BY 4.0.
Fill up the application form here: APPLY NOW