A student doing her homework infront of her laptop

Top South African literary stars turn out to inspire learners

Koa Academy, South Africa’s high-engagement online school, will be ending the 2023 school year on a high note by hosting an online workshop for grades 8–11, featuring some of the country’s top creative writers.

The stellar line-up of presenters includes best-selling novelist Lauren Beukes, beloved musician and lyricist Majozi, award-winning playwright Gabriella Pinto, celebrated poet Diana Ferrus, and co-creator of Madam & Eve, Stephen Francis.

Koa’s Online Creative Writing Workshop will run each morning from 08h15 to 11h45 on Thursday, 30 November, Friday, 1 December and Monday, 4 December 2023. The virtual event is free and open to all South Africa learners in grades 8–11. Registration for Koa’s Online Creative Workshop is open until 20 November 2023.

Koa’s subject specialist educator for English, Elouise Fourie, is the organiser of the inspirational and educational workshop. She says, “I teach many learners who have a real talent and a passion for creative writing. My initial thought was that I wanted to find a way to give them some real insight into the creative writing industry. I wanted to find a way to inspire them, but also give them something practical to use in their writing. I began contacting people who are well-known in the industry and, to my surprise and delight, a lot of them were keen to be involved.”

The line-up of 10 speakers on the programme over the three mornings also includes working writers in the fields of journalism, publishing, editing and copywriting, showcasing the range of career options for those with a talent for writing. The programme includes Q&A sessions so that learners can engage directly with the presenters to find out more about their writing processes and creative inspirations, and become familiar with writing careers that may be of interest to them in the future.

In conjunction with the Online Creative Writing Workshop, Koa is also hosting The Koa Academy Blog Writing Competition for all South African learners in grades 8–11. Learners are required to submit an original 400- to 600-word blog post on the topic, “The best and worst of being a teen in 2023”, by 20 November 2023. The winners of the competition will be announced on the last day of the workshop, 4 December 2023. There’s a R1 000 Exclusive Books shopping voucher to be won, as well as runner-up prizes – and the winning submissions will be published on Koa Academy’s official website.

As we engage more and more with insipid and monotonous AI-generated content, Fourie is determined to maintain the focus on learners developing their writing skills. She says, “We certainly won’t be accepting any AI–generated or otherwise plagiarised blog competition entries! I hope the upcoming creative writing workshop will make it clear to South African learners that human creativity is both essential and thrilling.

“Writing is a lot like music. The lapses and nuances are what make it beautiful. AI tools can be amazing, but they can’t match what human writers can do.

“I think there will always be a place for good writing. Creative writing in all its forms gives us a lens through which to view and make sense of the world. We need good writers: whether they are writing lyrics that put you in a good mood like Majozi, or novels that transport you to another world like Lauren Beukes.”

Koa Academy invites all SA grades 8–11 learners to the FREE Online Creative Writing Workshop. Register here.

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