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A little goes a long way: Rally to Read combats illiteracy among rural children in SA

2018-08-16 07:27

Image: Supplied

So you're driving your car or bakkie through the most spectacular scenery South Africa has to offer, and you think to yourself: "Imagine waking up to this every morning. The people living here are so lucky."

Things might be as idyllic as you think; one person’s stunning valley is another’s prison. Lack of education is a huge problem in South Africa with illiteracy prevalent among many children in  rural areas.

Many of these children lack basic educational materials; no reading books, exercise books, pens or pencils. Perhaps no desks, running water or toilets.

It's a sad reality faced by hundreds of thousands of South African children. The Rally to Read is calling on all motorists to make a difference. A R35 000 sponsorship can make a lifetime of difference to hundreds of children. 

In the 20 years, it has been operating, Rally To Read says a little goes a very long way in rural schools. A R35 000 sponsorship will provide a rural primary school with two portable classroom libraries packed with carefully-selected books designed to teach children to read.

Come and see for yourself

It will also fund a year’s additional teacher training for the school’s educators. The organisation said: "Each school is supported for three years - every year the books we deliver are a little more advanced - so that by the time we finish, a culture of reading and appropriate teaching is embedded."

                                                                           Image: Supplied

The organisation said: "Does it work? Independent studies show a rapid improvement in literacy skills at Rally To Read schools. Not convinced? Then come and see for yourself.

"At no extra cost (besides fuel and alcoholic drinks), sponsors are invited to join Rally To Read when it delivers books to schools. Each year, hundreds of sponsors and companions join us on weekend rallies into far-flung corners of the country, where we meet the children we are helping, as well as their families and community members.

"It’s a big event in their lives. Sometimes hundreds of people turn out to greet the strangers offering their children a future. It can be emotional; tears are not uncommon."

There are four rallies in 2018. The group adds: "One, in KwaZulu-Natal, is already full. But there are still spaces in the others. The Free State rally is on September 8-9 and will support primary schools around Reitz, Petrus Steyn and Tweeling.

"The Western Cape rally, on October 27-28, will take sponsors into the Winelands region around Robertson. Finally, the Eastern Cape rally will go to schools around Butterworth, in the former Transkei, on November 3-4. This is a new date; the rally was originally scheduled for September."

                                                                          Image: Supplied

Sponsorship and donations are derived from many industries but transport and automotive companies are major supporters. Many of SA’s automakers remain involved.

In addition, Shell, Mercedes-Benz SA and the OneLogix/United Bulk group host the KZN, Eastern Cape and Free State rallies respectively, with Jonsson Workwear doing the same in the Western Cape. Hosts cover the costs of sponsors’ weekend food and accommodation.

                                                                            Image: Supplied

Rally to Read said: "Weekends start ridiculously early on Saturday morning when sponsors and guests (it may be colleagues or family) meet to load their vehicles with libraries and other educational materials.

"Convoys split later into small groups, each of which visits two schools. Once that’s done, everyone meets up again at nearby accommodation, usually a hotel, for drinks and dinner, where we share feedback and experiences.

"On Sunday morning, participants have the opportunity to visit local places of interest, or they may head home after breakfast."

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