After donating 1 100 bicycles to learners from 20 rural schools in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape in April and May respectively, Volkswagen South Africa, together with its partners Qhubeka and World Vision South Africa, returned to a KwaZulu-Natal school to conduct bicycle maintenance, a road safety clinic and to deliver backpacks filled with books and stationery.
Volkswagen is one of the largest donors of the Bicycle Education Empowerment Programme (BEEP) in South Africa. The cost of one bicycle is R2 320, which includes programme logistics, a helmet and a bicycle tool. Before receiving a bicycle, learners and their parents or guardians are required to sign a contract, which stipulates the terms and conditions of using the bicycle (e.g. to improve school attendance). The bicycle becomes the personal property of the learner after the two-year contract has been successfully completed.
Qhubeka is World Bicycle Relief’s (WBR) programme in South Africa. A recent report by WBR revealed that academic performance increases by an average of 59% after receiving a bicycle and average school attendance improves by 28% as students spend less time commuting and more time in classrooms.
“The success of our initial donation of bicycles has inspired us to look at other opportunities to extend our commitment to making a small but impactful difference in the lives of the learners in the schools we are supporting,” says Thomas Schaefer, Managing Director: Volkswagen Group South Africa. “As a result, we have partnered with some of our dealerships in KwaZulu-Natal and Nal’ibali in donating reading material and stationery to the school.”
Nal’ibali (isiXhosa for “here’s the story”) is a national reading-for-enjoyment campaign to spark children’s potential through storytelling and reading.
“We hope reading will empower the learners and open their eyes to the new world filled with indefinite opportunities,” says Schaefer.
Following the donation ceremony earlier this year, the bicycle maintenance and skills and safety clinic ensures overall upkeep of bikes and general safety on the roads. A well maintained bicycle requires less repairs and attracts a lower repair cost. Local mechanics are trained to maintain these bikes and enter into a service-to-own contract, whereby they pledge to provide repair support to BEEP for a certain period of time, typically two years.
“It is wonderful that donors like Volkswagen South Africa continue to invest in the longevity of BEEP, supporting efforts to teach children how to ride safely and proficiently, which ultimately contributes to the sustainability of the programme,” says Paula Barnard, national director of World Vision SA.
“While our bicycles are built for difficult terrain, like all bicycles they perform best when well looked after and maintained,” says Sarah Phaweni, Qhubeka Executive Director. “Our goal is to make BEEP sustainable in the long run, which is why we are delighted that Volkswagen South Africa have been so supportive in helping us fund follow-up bicycle maintenance and safety clinics. Our hope is that with well maintained, beautiful, strong bicycles the children will be part of a culture in South Africa that promotes bicycle use.”
With the help of 12 participating KwaZulu-Natal Volkswagen dealerships, a number of books, as well as stationery, were collected and used to fill backpacks along with a Nal’ibali bilingual story-card and supplement to encourage reading for enjoyment.
“Regular interaction with people who share interesting and exciting books and stories in home languages allows children to build a deep understanding of their mother tongue. This ensures a firm foundation for learning not only an additional language, but for all other school learning too,” explains Carole Bloch, Executive Director of PRAESA (The Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa), which is running the Nal’ibali campaign.
The bicycle maintenance and road safety clinic is the pilot project and will be rolled out to all other bicycle recipients later this year.
For more information contact:
General Manager: Communications
Volkswagen Group South Africa
Wendy van Eyck
Networks & Communications Coordinator