Ford South Africa remains committed to promoting and improving literacy as far as possible.
This year is the 22nd year that Ford South Africa has been in partnership with Rally to Read, and while this partnership remains strong, Ford upped the ante in 2019 by committing to support several disadvantaged primary schools in rural Mpumalanga for three years as part of this project. In 2021, Ford has donated nearly R1,3 million to this project to complete their three-year deal. On 22 March 2021 (Word Storytelling Day) Ford South Africa made the handover to Rally to Read.
RALLY TO READ
Rally to Read was founded in 1998, and almost from the outset, Ford SA has been involved. In March 2020, a convoy of Ford Rangers headed into rural Mpumalanga and delivered books, teaching aids, and other educational materials to the schools in need. With their donation from this year earmarked to go towards independent reading libraries, the program aims to encourage children to apply the skills that they have been taught in school, and to read more for leisure, to do research, and to improve their reading skills in general.
Carol Read, acting CEO of the READ Educational Trust – of which the Rally to Read is a flagship project – says that the unfortunate truth is that many children across the globe, and especially in rural areas, do not have access to proper education. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a further hampering impact on the progression of literacy levels among learners.
The Rally to Read has always been a popular activity – particularly among corporates that take part. By going along on rally weekends, they get the opportunity to interact with the children, teachers, and communities that are impacted by the program. Unfortunately, the pandemic forced the organisers to cancel all events for 2020. The weekend during which the convoy of Rangers delivered materials was the only event for 2020. To cancel 2021’s events as well would have been devastating for the schools and communities that have already started on the three-year program. The progress would have been lost and the learners would have stared a future of lost opportunity and illiteracy in the face. To prevent this, Ford SA recognised the importance of continuing the program and all handovers took place without the usual event formalities. Thanks to Ford’s generous donations, the schools will still receive educational materials.
Everyone involved in the project, from principals to parents of the schools involved agrees that the Rally to Read programme has had an immense impact on the learners. This is not only limited to the time in which they are part of the project but some outstanding scholastic and post-matric achievements by some of the learners, which in other instances might not have had a chance to reach such achievements.
Carol Read reiterates that with the support from companies like Ford, the contribution made towards education and literacy in South Africa can continue for years to come. “Rally to Read is about much more than merely providing books. It also provides hope to the children, their families, and their communities. And hope is something we desperately need in this country now,” Read concludes.
Image: Ford South Africa