Politician turned super businessman Cyril Ramaphosa is starting another revolution made in the campaign of galvanising South African professionals to take proactive interest in the country’s education.
Last week Friday, Ramaphosa jumpstarted the Adopt-a-School campaign by heading back to his primary school, Tshilidzi in Soweto, which he has assisted immensely over the past few years. His Friday visit was however not about showcasing his philanthropic muscle but to emphasise the positive impact that can be realised from mere interest and presentation to under resourced schools.
While addressing the media conference at Tshilidzi Primary School, Ramaphosa came close to a melodious recital of the song “Give me a dream” as he hammered the need for professionals to go back to their former schools to motivate pupils. Out of his Adopt a School Foundation, has come another campaign which promises to spread like wild fire. He has just planted a seed for a Back to School for Day campaign which if it takes off should occur nationally and annually on the first Friday of every May. “The impact of this campaign on pupils can be big,” said Ramaphosa. You never know the impact that you can have by your mere presence at school.
There was something fundamentally different about this campaign as being different to the classical CSI projects which tend to emphasis financial amounts being doled out and gaining brownie points. This is not about money but appeals to the moral conscience of individuals to make a difference.
Ramaphosa first issued the call for a national Back to School For a Day at an Adopt-a-School fundraiser in November last year, where he encouraged corporate South Africa and individuals to play a positive role in the basic education of South Africa’s youth.
Last Friday some 16 companies and hundreds of volunteers heeded that call and descended on 51 selected schools around the country to touch the lives of over 25 000 pupils in what is a pilot of the Back to School For a Day initiative.
Ramaphosa elected to visit Tshilidzi Primary, the school he attended as a young boy in Soweto. He addressed Tshilidzi’s Grade 7 learners on the importance of learning and getting an education.
Ramaphosa said the theme for the inaugural Back to School day was the promotion of literacy. Corporations have jumped in through supplementary programmes which cover a broad range of elements in their programmes such as health and nutrition, social skills, career guidance, reading and story-telling.
Stephen Lebere, Executive Director of the Adopt-a-School Foundation said “There is an urgent need for a combined effort from the private sector, NGOs and the public sector to address some of the crippling shortfalls in our education system. This need was recently reiterated by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, at a conference for Mandela Day 2012”.
“The companies and their staff joining us across the country today are truly vested in the education of our children. You can see it and feel it in the way they have embraced this day.
“When an adult walks into a school to offer their time and resources, the students feel recognised. Going back is about giving back and that is what is important about today,” Ramaphosa commented.
“We hope that in future many South Africans will make the first Friday in May the day that they go back to school to transform the lives of young people through the sharing of time, compassion, skills, knowledge and different resources. This is an opportunity to make a lasting impact on learners, particularly at disadvantaged school,” said the chairman of a multi billion rands Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) group Shanduka.