PRAESA director Dr Carole Bloch has a background in teaching pre-school children and older children with literacy learning difficulties. Since 1992, when she joined PRAESA, she has worked to transform the way children learn to read and write by putting stories, meaning making and enjoyment at the centre of formal and non-formal learning. She set up an Early Literacy Unit in PRAESA and co-ordinated its work for many years. This included research into young children’s literacy and biliteracy learning in multilingual African settings, facilitating training for teachers and teacher trainers and the publication of several storybooks for children of all ages in many African languages.
In 2004, Carole initiated and ran the AU’s African Academy of Languages (ACALAN) core project, Stories Across Africa, a pan-African initiative to create common collections of stories for all African children to read in their mother tongues. She has served as an early literacy consultant in several African countries and has a PhD (cum laude) in early literacy in African settings from the Carl Ozietsky University in Germany.
She is founder and a trustee of The Little Hands Trust, which promotes and supports the development and use of children’s literature in South Africa. In her position as director of PRAESA, Carole designed, initiated and led the first four years of the Nal’ibali national Reading-for-Enjoyment Campaign; she then co-founded the Nal’ibali Trust, serving as a trustee for the first year. She served on the SA PEN committee from 2015-2017, is on the Minister of Education’s Reading Advisory Committee, the PIRLS advisory committee, the SA IBBY Committee and is an elected a member of the IBBY International Executive Committee for 2016-2018. She was elected as Vice -President of IBBY International 2019-2020.
In 2017, she was inducted into The Reading Hall of Fame. Carole is now concentrating on early literacy development and research from birth to six years of age, focusing with her colleagues on an approach called Storyplay, to ensure that adults facilitate appropriate early literacy opportunities for very young children.
Thando Gobe is the Managing Director of Personal Trust International, an independent trust, and investment management company. The primary focus of the business is to provide financial planning and investment advice and services to clients planning for, or already in their retirement years. Founded in December 1980, Personal Trust has offices in Rondebosch, Somerset West, Knysna, Port Elizabeth and the UK and currently manages more than R17 billion on behalf of its clients. In addition to his responsibilities as MD, Thando is a Trust Officer and serves on the Investment & Financial Planning Council as well as the Executive Committee. He also serves on the Board of ASSET and is non-executive chair of RiSA. Thando is deeply interested in the broad mission of poverty elimination and is a proponent of reading for enjoyment as part of the solution. He has an Honours degree in Business Science and a B.Com Honours in Financial Analysis and Portfolio Management from the University of Cape Town.
Arabella Koopman is a Multilingual Materials Development Specialist at PRAESA, where she conceptualises, develops and manages the reading and literacy-support materials of the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign. She is also a published author and freelance publisher with more than 20 years writing and commissioning experience. She holds particular expertise in children’s literature, textbook development, and the development and suitability assessment of books and other reading materials intended for multilingual settings. Arabella has a special interest in developing and researching materials that support and extend children’s literacy. She is a trustee of The Little Hands Trust, which promotes and supports the development and use of children’s literature in South Africa.
Ntombizanele Mahobe has 20 years’ experience in education, particularly early literacy development. Working with PRAESA for many years, she has experience as a biliteracy teacher and teacher trainer, researcher, materials developer, translator and children’s writer. She is currently working as a training manager for Nal’ibali Trust, a campaign that aims to promote reading in South African communities and schools, through reading for enjoyment. Ntombizanele is one of the founders of community reading clubs and has since been working in the area of community development.