Share Your Stories. Storytelling Week with Ashoka Changemaker Schools in South Africa

Storytelling is a fundamental part of not only communication and web content, but of our contemporary world at large. A story can provide ideas or suggest solutions to long-standing questions; it allows us to identify with other people, put ourselves in their shoes, and relive their experiences. A well-crafted story will take us to places and contexts we would never be able to reach otherwise; or will show us familiar places from a different perspective. In other words, a story can change the way we are, providing us with new lenses for looking at the world. All this is essential for a changemaker – a word that defines someone able to trigger social change. It is a neologism created by Ashoka, an organization of which we became partner more than a year ago, and which consists of a group of social innovators working together to come up with new creative solutions to the most urgent social problems.

Also thanks to the support of lettera27, during the last year Ashoka selected more than 50 schools in seven African countries, which are now part of the Changemaker Schools network. Due to their innovative educational methods, these schools – selected by a panel of experts and opinion leaders in the educational field – represent a breeding ground for a new generation of changemakers in the African continent. But the future has already begun, thanks to small but important changes that teachers and students are already experiencing in their daily school practice. We agree with Ashoka that this ongoing process is a story worth telling. We also think that this story should be created and disseminated by the schools themselves, starting with the students, who are the true protagonists of these valuable experiences.

That is why Ashoka and lettera27 promote the teaching of storytelling in Ashoka Changemaker Schools, through workshops with experts and professionals. The African School for Excellence (ASE) of Johannesburg, South Africa, will be the first school involved in a pilot workshop from October 19 to 23. Thanks to its advanced educational methods, focusing on the specificities of the local community, ASE is regarded as one of the most innovative schools in the continent. Its approach is based on peer learning, with teachers playing only a minor part in students’ learning. Apart from attending traditional lectures, students are also encouraged to share knowledge by working in small groups where the older ones can guide the younger in their learning process. This method helps children build independence and problem-solving skills, while also contributing to reducing the costs, making the school more sustainable and accessible to local communities.

During the five days of the Youth Storytelling Workshop, 30 students will learn the basic techniques of writing a script, creating a storyboard, video-making, vlogging, and using video-interviews to tell innovative stories emerging from their school and local community. In addition to this storytelling workshop, lettera27 is also promoting a two-day learning project dedicated to WikiAfrica, with the aim of introducing students and teachers to the most widely used online encyclopedia in the world and encouraging students to share stories related to their local communities and cultural heritage.

The pilot project starting in October intends to identify the best and most effective tools to turn Ashoka Changemaker Schools into true “storytelling hubs”. The first step will be the Storytelling Panel & Workshop dedicated to Changemaker Schools educators and leaders at the South African Regional Summit in Cape Town on October 30, organized with the aim of helping them develop new storytelling educational methods. lettera27 will be in Johannesburg to share these stories with you in real time. Stay tuned!