Puku Children’s Literature Foundation was awarded the 2021 UNESCO King Sejong International Literacy Prize for its work on “Using digital technologies to promote children’s literature in South Africa’s indigenous languages” on September 9, 2021.

In awarding Puku and other 2021 recipients, UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay noted that all the winners have literally changed the lives of thousands of children, young people, women and marginalised adults.

Puku is proud to be among six 2021 UNESCO Laureates recognised for their outstanding literacy programmes. They will receive a medal, a diploma and a cash prize of US$20,000.

Elinor Sisulu
Elinor Sisulu

In accepting the award, Puku’s Executive Director Elinor Sisulu thanked the South African Presidency for its support of arts organisations during the pandemic. She described Puku’s operational approach as influenced by the Creative

Coalitions model of the international human rights organisation Crisis Action, stating; “This award is therefore not ours alone. So we must take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank our partners who played a crucial role in the implementation of the project.” These include various NGOs, state parastatals, universities, book publishers, a provincial government and an embassy.

Puku Children’s Literature Foundation is a non-governmental organisation established in 2009 with the objective of promoting reading and book development to help all children, especially those living in the most economically deprived areas, so that they may have access to books in all South African languages. Puku aims to ensure that all children have access to quality, culturally relevant literature in the languages they understand.

Accolades have been pouring in for Puku. Speaking on behalf of the government, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said; “We are very proud and we’re very excited about the honour that you received. Your honour is ours.”

Chairperson of the UNESCO Education Sector Committee (ESC) in South Africa, Mrs Palesa Tyobeka stated; “You’ve earned this. You worked hard for it. We are so proud to call you our own.”