Rally to Read is a South African program that provides support for rural schools in the form of books, teaching materials, learning toys, and training courses. The goal: improving the teaching quality as well as the reading and writing skills of the students. Mercedes-Benz South Africa has been supporting the initiative for more than 15 years with sponsoring, donations, and volunteer efforts of its employees.
This year, the Rally to Read starts in the former Transkei region located at South Africa's Eastern Cape province. In all, 50 MBSA employees, including men and women visited schools in tough areas in September, and provided them with books and teaching aids. Thembakazi Luvuno works in internal communications at MBSA and was one of the volunteers: "Being part of a company that supports such a wonderful initiative does not only humble me, but it also makes me proud to be part of the solution in our country. This day was very touching and profound to me, especially after seeing how warmly the children received the education material - one could see from their eyes that they are eager to learn. I appreciate the opportunity that we are afforded by the company to also lend a helping hand towards initiatives that seek to shape the future of our country – I feel like I made a difference in somebody’s life.”
Arno van der Merwe, CEO and Executive Director: Manufacturing at MBSA, first wants to develop an awareness and understanding for the situation in Africa. In his view, that is the prerequisite to make a difference. "The former Transkei area is an area that feeds many of our communities, it's a home to many of our colleagues and a very important part of the Eastern Cape in terms of where we would like to see growth and development. The most important thing that we have to do is to create a passion for learning, a yearning to know - and all of that starts with reading and the ability to read.“
About the Rally to Read
The Rally to Read dates back to 1998. The HSRC (Human Science Research Council) went to remote, rural schools to provide them with school materials. Upon their return, the scientists described the many shortcomings and poor conditions. As a result, the Rally to Read initiative collected nearly 12,000 euro in donations and attracted already 80 sponsors in its first year after being founded. In 170 rallies to date, a total of 1,013 schools from 53 regions participated in the program designed to run for three years in each case.
In the first year, convoys deliver educational materials to the most remote and neglected schools in the selected region. In addition, there are seminars for teachers to improve their qualifications. In the second and third year, the sponsors visit the schools, and the students have the opportunity to demonstrate their reading skills acquired since the start of the program.
For more information, please visit www.rallytoread.co.za.