On 5 June 2014, 250 brand new Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycles were handed over to beaming learners at the Kama and Siseko high schools in the Nkonkobe Municipality of South Africa’s Eastern Cape province as part of the Bicycle Education Empowerment Programme (BEEP).
BEEP is a partnership between Qhubeka and World Vision South Africa and has been implemented at the Kama and Siseko high schools through the generosity of the MTN SA Foundation, which has contributed R1, 088,310.50 towards the project, funding 500 bicycles in total (250 of which were handed over on 29 May and the remaining 250 distributed on 5 June).
The MTN SA Foundation is the social investment vehicle of MTN South Africa, which is part of the MTN Group, a multinational telecommunications company operating in 21 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The Foundation’s 21 Days of Y’ello Care initiative is an annual staff volunteer programme that runs across the MTN footprint for 21 days, from 1 to 21 June, and encourages all MTN employees to volunteer in support of community upliftment initiatives. The BEEP handover event is part of the 2014 programme, and complements the Foundation’s focus on education.
MTN employees attended the event and helped to hand over the bicycles to the learners who are part of the BEEP initiative.
How BEEP works
In South Africa, 12 million of the 16 million school-going children walk more than two hours to school and two hours back. With a Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycle, a child’s commute time is reduced by up to 75%. Marks improve by an average of 25% for children who ride a bicycle to school, and schools where children ride bicycles to class see attendance rates rise by 18% on average.
The BEEP partnership between World Vision SA and Qhubeka therefore seeks to provide bicycles to school children and teachers with the objectives of increasing attendance and performance of vulnerable children; retaining more girls in school; improving teacher attendance and access to professional development activities; uplifting the livelihoods of bicycle beneficiaries and their families; and improving the safety and security of students travelling to and from school.
MTN SA Foundation: focusing on education for all
The MTN SA Foundation has been investing in the Kama and Siseko high schools for five years now. Judith Maluleka, Project Manager at the MTN SA Foundation, explains that the distribution of 500 bicycles to learners at these schools will help the learners to get to school faster, more regularly and more safely. “It means that they are more likely to arrive in time to receive a nutritious breakfast, provided through a feeding scheme at the schools,” says Maluleka. “Because they arrive less tired, they can also concentrate better in class.”
Furthermore, she adds that the BEEP initiative also creates employment opportunities within the community. “For every 500 bicycles provided to learners and teachers, three bicycle mechanics are trained within the community,” she says. “They receive certificates upon successful completion of training, as well as the tools and materials for fixing the bicycles allocated to the learners. They therefore gain an opportunity to generate an income for themselves by providing mechanic services to the community that is now mobilised with bicycles.”
The difference bicycles can make
“At Qhubeka, we believe that bicycles change and improve lives,” says Anthony Fitzhenry, Director at Qhubeka. “This has certainly proved true in our BEEP beneficiary schools, where we’ve seen how mobilising learners and teachers with bicycles opens up opportunities for learning, development and growth. Qhubeka thanks the MTN SA Foundation and all the staff volunteering through the 21 Days of Y’ello Care programme for funding these bicycles, which will make a huge impact not only in the lives of the learners, but the entire community.”