By Porter Anderson, Editor | @Porter_Anderson
Al Qasimi: “To unlock the literary landscape”
FFive projects were nominated today (June 16) to receive 2022 grants from the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund, a program worth watching not only for its recipient choices, but also because of its model for selecting thematic approaches to its work. For example, last year the fund’s work challenged the traditional focus of many African markets on government-funded textbook production.
And it’s an opportunity to see a founding granting agency become its own – evolving its response to needs and requests for help as its leadership’s understanding and analysis further highlights issues and trends on field.
Like a person’s deep understanding of the world and themselves, a nonprofit service operation such as the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund gains traction and clarity for its mission by developing a concept clearer of where its action can have the most beneficial effect. Over time, his work becomes more focused.
On the sidelines of the Sharjah International Book Fair last fall, the fund hosted stakeholder discussions at Sharjah’s House of Wisdom to explore ways to improve the impact of the program’s work. These talks have had their effect on the program’s work moving forward and we can see a reflection of these conversations in today’s announcement.
As you will recall, Bodour Al Qasimi, now President of the International Publishers Association (IPA), initially led the creation of the fund in May 2019 in association with Tariq Al Gurg, CEO of the philanthropic program Dubai Cares. The program is designed to run for four years with an endowment of US$800,000. This is its third annual grant installment.
The fund is administered by the International Publishers Association, and in its 2021 grants cycle last year it awarded five grants to projects chosen from a pool of 311 applications based in 26 African countries.
Once again, the total distributed in this tranche of grants is US$200,000, and those who receive grants are selected by the committee from applications received from 18 African countries. The committee itself includes editors from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tunisia.
In a prepared commentary on today’s announcement, Al Qasimi is quoted saying, “Since 2019, the Africa Editing Innovation Funds has had the honor of giving life to projects providing solutions to many challenges related to books and reading.
“As part of Dubai Cares support this year, we are directing fundraising towards reading for enjoyment and accessibility, two priorities with the power to open up the literary landscape to everyone, regardless of ability level. education or ability.”
And at Dubai Cares, Al Gurg says, “Reading is one of the most important skills children and young people can acquire, as it opens doors to a whole new world of knowledge, wisdom and learning.
“Our support for Africa Editing Innovation Funds in 2022, thanks to our partnership with the International Publishers Association, allows us to promote the love of reading among young visually impaired readers and to give access to books to underprivileged children and young people.
“We are very proud of our partnership with the IPA, which has helped put inclusivity at the heart of their global program and the launch of this program has served as an extension of the IPA’s leading role in reviving of the reading culture in the world.”
As the fund says today, “the five initiatives that will receive grants from the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund” this year have been chosen “to ignite a love of reading among millions of young Africans “.
The 2022 Africa Publishing Innovation Fund Recipients
Below is a list of the five recipients announced today, with additional notes on the projects the fund has recognized for their support.
Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA)Pan-African
- In his Read with the stars project, this association plans to recruit celebrities and sports stars to catalyze a reading culture in African schools and homes through read-aloud and advertising campaigns in major African cities
Book Aid International, Uganda and Zimbabwe
- This is the second grant that UK-based Book Aid International has received from the fund, the first, in 2021, recognizing the organisation’s shipping container library facilities deployed in Tanzania. This time a Book Aid program called African story box is to bring books to children and encourage reading for pleasure. Money from the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund will target 24 primary schools in Uganda and Zimbabwe. Book Aid is also to “run reading promotion events for local publishers, school leaders, teachers, children, parents, education ministers and other stakeholders”.
- “Working with the Masai community living in the highly deprived country of Narok, near the Maasai Mara National Reserve,” the fund’s media message states, “OliveSeed Kenya is developing educational programs and learning resource centers at the school, each with a well-stocked library.”
Alternative Education Study Project in South Africa (PRAESA), South Africa
- The non-profit organization often referred to by its acronym PRAESA has been recognized by the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund with a grant that recognizes the project’s attempt “to deepen the impact of reading aloud for children through free webinars and written guides to teach adults how to select the right books, read engagingly, and use stories to spark imagination and critical thinking.
Yanbow Al KitabMorocco
- Yanbow Al Kitab (Yanbow, the Book) is a children’s publisher based in Casablanca. His grant-funded project is to give small libraries to 300 low-income Moroccan families with young children. these libraries “will contain 22 books, access to clips of readings by storytellers and tips for parents on how to optimize read-aloud time with children”.
Issues: reading for pleasure, accessible publishing
In the IPA discussion around today’s announcement, we hear again that “African publishing is heavily biased towards textbooks – up to 90% of sales in some markets – where consumers generally associate reading with education, not leisure. The closure of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on public purchases of textbooks have highlighted the vulnerability of the publishing sector in African markets.
This is the organization’s clearest formulation to date of a concern that has been described to us here at Publication prospects in July 2019 by Cassava Republic Press co-founder Bibi Bakare-Yusuf following an event in Nairobi with the PublisHer event. Bakare-Yusuf described in these comments the dominance of the publishing business in many African markets by men because the financial gain was greater in educational publishing.
“The fact that men aren’t as well represented in the profession is only a matter of time,” she said. “They are waiting for women to lead the way and show them the financial potential before weaning themselves off very lucrative government contracts. And watch them try to get the upper hand, with try as a watchword. »
In terms of impact on readership, as evidenced by the African Publishing Innovation Fund grant decisions, reading as a life habit – for pleasure, information and perspective – can be hampered when the surplus of educational publishing becomes so heavy that a population comes to understand literature and reading solely in terms of educational functions.
In addition to the fund’s focus on the place of reading in the lives of its funding recipients, it announced today that in the second half of this year it will work with the DAISY Consortium “to facilitate and funds the production of accessible works on multiple African markets.
“This latest release from the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund project will spawn a new canon of accessible works that will reach African readers who are blind, visually impaired and otherwise print-disabled. The accessible books produced will have the potential to meet the literary needs of thousands of children, especially those from underserved linguistic minorities.
Information on this new fund orientation element is expected to be made public in the coming weeks.
More this week on accessible publishing comes from Italy, where the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE) is participating in a conference on Monday June 20 with Fondazione LIA, focusing on issues of accessibility in materials of study and texts for university students. Our story is here.
More information about Publishing Perspectives on Publishing in Africa is here, more about the International Publishers Association is here, and more about the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund is here.
Publishing Perspectives is the global media partner of the International Publishers Association.
To learn more about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and its impact on international book publishing, click here.