Every child has the right to free and quality education that meets their specific needs irrespective of their background. However, more than 260 million children and young people worldwide are reportedly out of school due to financial constraints. Furthermore, the high-powered Education Commission revealed in 2016 that twice as many girls as boys will never start school.
Given the dire straits of rural schooling, it comes as no surprise that corporates have come to the realization that they can not continue to exist and thrive in isolation to the community they serve. It is for this reason that South Africa’s most favourite pen, BIC South Africa – through its 8th year partnership with Read Educational Trust – is intensifying efforts to help overcome barriers to learning and development faced by many children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
One of a kind stationery drive; 8.5 million pens and counting
Since 2011, BIC has distributed over 8.5 million pens to needy schools. This year, the company is on a mission to distribute 1.5 million pens to learners at underprivileged schools across South Africa.
To realize this, BIC is embarking on a national educational roadshow, ‘Power Their Potential’, in partnership with the award winning brand activation agency, Zinto Marketing Group, whom the brand has partnered with since inception. The company will equip hundreds of primary schools in the country’s townships and rural areas with the relevant stationery tools to fulfil their basic educational needs.
As BIC marketing director, Lillian Henderson, points out the donation will go a long way in positively impacting 55.5% of South Africans living in poverty (as revealed in the latest Poverty Trends Report) and are unable to provide the most basic resources for their children.
“Many parents are forced to prioritize putting food on the table over purchasing school supplies. For their kids, however, lack of access to essentials like pens is one of the biggest obstacles to school participation and academic achievement,” she says adding: “Our aim, achieved through our annual Buy a Pen, Donate a Pen programme, enables us, through the help of consumers, to distribute pens to make education inclusive for all and promote a culture of lifelong learning.”
Education as a human right, the Madiba way
While the right to quality education is fully entretched in the South African Constitution, for many children living in the rurals this basic human right still remain elusive (Emerging Voices: A Report on Education in South African Rural Communities). As the late, former South African statesman Nelson Mandela noted in the report, one of the biggest challenges facing rural South Africans is the effort to improving the quality of education. “What is often overlooked however, is the immense, untapped potential of rural communities to take the lead in shaping a better future for themselves. We have to work together to ensure that decision-makers targeting poverty alleviation and social development have access to the voices of the very people who are supposed to benefit from these policies,” Mandela was quoted as saying.
Taking forward Madiba’s believe that education is the most powerful weapon to change the world, BIC has been successfully running the ‘Power Their Potential’ roadshow since 2011, equipping thousands of rural primary schools with stationeries as well cash prizes towards education, and iPads. Says Henderson: “With many schools operating under very difficult circumstances and often lacking basic teaching and educational resources such as stationery, it’s the teachers who often purchase stationery from their own pockets, so BIC contributes, albeit in a small way, to alleviate their pressures.”
Call to action: Buy a Pen, Donate a Pen
Members of the public are encouraged to show their support by purchasing any specially marked BIC ‘Buy a Pen, Donate a Pen’ pack. The pens will be distributed by the Read Educational Trustt, a Southern African non-profit organization focused on literacy development in children.
For more information visit https://za.bicworld.com/about-us/bic-south-africa.
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