Representing a first for South Africa, global humanitarian aid and advocacy group, World Vision South Africa together with its Swiss counterpart, World Vision Switzerland and Qhubeka –a World Bicycle Relief local partner – will be handing over 6 000 bicycles as part of its Bicycle Education Empowerment Programme (BEEP) to children across the country during 2013/2014.
Yesterday (Thursday, 24 October 2013) marked the official launch of BEEP and also the handover of the first 250 bicycles to the children of the Mbekweni community in Paarl in the Western Cape.
With an estimated 12 million – out of 16 million – children walking to school each day of which 500 000 walk more than two hours each way, BEEP hopes to improve the attendance and subsequent academic performance of these vulnerable children. Currently only 40% of South African students achieve a qualification higher than grade 9.
Comments Paula Barnard, national director of World Vision South Africa: “Research shows that education is an essential element in the fight to end the cycle of disease and poverty in developing countries. And with BEEP we can make an immediate difference to school attendance as well as improve children’s wellbeing with safe, reliable and affordable transportation.”
In support of the programme, World Vision Switzerland has contributed 10% match funding towards the total BEEP project cost. Says Martin Suhr, Director for International Programs at World Vision Switzerland: “The project not only offers great opportunity to build relations between intercontinental World Vision offices but also creates opportunities to build relations between South Africa and Switzerland.
“The possible impact of the project on children’s education in South Africa and its other related spinoffs such as increased community mobility and reduced travel times were the biggest incentive to invest in the project”.
Comments Anthony Fitzhenry, Qhubeka founder: “Qhubeka is delighted to be leveraging off World Bicycle Relief’s existing partnership with World Vision. We have confidence and a high regard for World Vision’s capability to implement the programme with quality and integrity. We look forward to bringing the successful World Bicycle Relief BEEP programme to South Africa.”
The BEEP rationale and implementation
BEEP was successfully launched by World Vision Zambia and Qhubeka partner, World Bicycle Relief in 2009 and an impact study conducted in December 2012 amongst girls showed an attendance increase of 28% an overall academic improvement 59%. Also 89% of children could get to school in an hour or less.
In South Africa, BEEP will roll out the bicycles to children over 10 years old and will endeavour to offer the following benefits:
- Improve attendance and performance of vulnerable children in community and government schools;
- Improve livelihoods of bicycle beneficiaries and their families; and
- Improve safety and security of students traveling to and from school.
Key to the success of BEEP is a systematically executed and supported rollout of the bicycles. For example: local government officials and traditional leaders are engaged; bicycles aren’t simply handed over but include service-to-own contracts; and local bicycle field mechanics are trained to service and maintain the bicycles.
The two-year service-to-own contract for example states that the students must attend school faithfully and punctually. The bicycles are sturdy, high quality Buffalo Bicycles provided by Qhubeka. Spare parts will also be original Buffalo Bicycle parts to ensure the bicycles are maintained and enjoy longevity.
The next 500 bicycles will be handed over to children from the Orange Farm community in Johannesburg in November 2013.