JOHANNESBURG- SOUTH Africa has over the years gained international infamy after it emerged its schoolchildren were among the most illiterate, particularly at Grade 4 and Grade 5 levels.
In 2006, the Progress in Reading and Literacy Study (PIRLS 2006) rated the country last out of 45 participating countries with only 13 percent of Grade 4 and 22 percent of Grade 5 learners emerging literate.
This was in stark contrast to the majority of other participating countries. South Africa did not participate at the last survey in 2011.
Such a scenario is poised to change with the donation of R160 000 a technology firm has raised for the ‘Literacy for Life’, a non-profit organisation that provides educational writing and reading aid to disadvantaged schools.
Value-added distributor, Networks Unlimited, has raised the funds at its second annual corporate golf day event held in Johannesburg.
The funds are in support of educational products that focus on developing handwriting skills as well as improving literacy and numeracy.
Literacy for Life helps children within the Foundation Phase at cash strapped schools.
It relies on sponsorship from corporate companies to be able to provide these products and the relevant training.
Anton Jacobsz, Managing Director at Networks Unlimited says South Africa’s low rating figures highlight the importance of giving learners additional support, providing them the confidence and motivation needed to learn to write.
The purpose of Networks Unlimited’s recent golf day was to have a corporate challenge that was meaningful and make a significant difference.
“At the end of the golf challenge, while the winning team may have received a floating trophy, the real winners are the children that will be assisted through the funds we raised with the partners and vendors that helped to support this event,” Jacobsz says.
“There is no greater charity than the gift of education and contribution towards a child’s development, as this will ultimately have a positive impact in the country’s progress and growth.”
Among the contributors were partners namely, Arbor, Aruba, Big Save, Datacentrix, EOH, F5 Networks, Fortinet, Harvey World Travel, Holiday Inn, Matador, Mellanox Technologies, Mochana, Nexia and Pick n Pay.
Steenberg, ProLabs, Riverbed Technology, SimpliVity, Three6Five and Tintri also contributed while Unlimited Events Group provided décor at the awards dinner as well as leading an auction.
Literacy for Life’s Heather Andrew says the organisation has assisted 42 schools during the past 12 months.
“We are in the process of identifying needy schools to support this year,” says Andrew.
“Typically we try and find the ‘forgotten about’ township and rural schools that do not get much government funding. Our aim is to assist the foundation phase (grades R – 3) with writing aids and arts and crafts material, as well as giving stationery packs to needy children.”
“We believe that if a child starts grade 1 (or any other grade) with the correct stationery, they will be eager to learn and be more confident in class,” says Andrew.