Rally to Read
The Power of the Rally to Read Project
South Africa still faces so many socio-economic challenges with unemployment, poverty and crime being highest on the national agenda and education remains a critical response to these concerns. The Rally to Read programme has a direct positive impact on the Department of Education’s documented national priorities - “Reduce illiteracy... Develop the professional abilities of the teaching force... School effectiveness and teacher professionalism... and ...Equip pupils with appropriate skills, especially with regard to maths, science and technology...”
Through the collaborative efforts of organisers, hosts and sponsors the lives of thousands of children are impacted every year.
More importantly, hundreds of teachers are up-skilled and empowered through their participation in the training programme, in turn benefiting not only their learners but their communities as a whole.
How It Works
- Corporates buy up sponsorships. A sponsorship = 2 x library boxes and teacher training, and a food parcel to feed the pupils on a rally day. The funds are paid into the READ Educational Trust account (www.read.org.za) which is audited annually and contributors are issued with a relevant tax certificate
- Up to four representatives of the sponsor participate in the Rally of their choice, in their own high clearance vehicle, as guests of the Rally organisers
- Rally participants, after loading the educational material earmarked for the schools, leave major cities at dawn on the Saturday morning. They spend the Saturday travelling in convoys to visit schools, hand over the material and meet the teachers, leaners and parents. This experience provides the opportunity for increased understanding of, and insight into, the developmental needs of rural, traditional and cultural life. Certain rallies, because of the distance travelled, depart on the preceding Friday afternoon.
- The evening is spent in accommodation in the local area, where experiences of the day are shared by participants over a relaxing dinner.
- On Sunday participants have the opportunity to explore the local area before heading home
- The READ Educational Trust is contracted to run training programmes for the teachers and to provide in-situ guidance and monitoring for the three-year period. 64 days of training and support are invested each year into the schools of each region.
- Rally returns to the same set of schools for three consecutive years to witness progress and to develop the relationship with each school.
The Rally Experience
The programme is executed over weekends. During five weekends each year, convoys of vehicles depart from five main cities across the country to deliver educational material and resources to some of the country’s most remote and neglected schools. On arrival at the schools, participants meet and interact with the learners and teachers as part of the process of handing over the books and resources.
In cases where second and third year visits to schools occur, learners take pride in demonstrating the reading skills they have developed since the start of their programme. When a school is identified as a beneficiary of the Rally to Read programme, they embark on a three year process that not only entails the acceptance of literacy materials but also the critical follow-up teacher support and training. Sponsors, by visiting the same schools over a three year period, have the opportunity to evaluate the progress of literacy levels among the learners as well as success of the literacy programme over a period of time in those schools.
Once the visits to the schools are completed all sponsors return to their place of accommodation where they are hosted to a dinner later that evening. During dinner, sponsors interact with one another, sharing their own special stories of their experiences at the schools, interaction with the children and special moments that they can take back to their office and share with fellow colleagues, family and friends.
Stories from participants…
“Participating in the Rally to Read every year has been a humbling experience for me. It is heartbreaking to see the circumstances in the rural schools where children have to learn, but it is also uplifting to see the difference our help makes when we return the next year and the children are so eager to show us what they have learned,” says Gillian McMahon, executive director, Bidvest South Africa.
“As a newcomer to the Rally to Read I was excited about a weekend away and the opportunity to do something to hopefully help others and change the lives of students not that much younger than I am. I was told that we would be visiting schools in the Free State and that we would be handing over books and teaching supplies. But I came away from the weekend with new appreciation for everything I have. We visited a school with less than 100 students, but with teachers and parents who wanted to see the children succeed despite the struggles they face. With only four teachers, students of different ages and literacy levels had to learn together – something that really surprised me. This year was the final year that the school would be receiving support and we left with a commitment that the teachers would continue to use the resources provided to enrich the lives of their students. Despite the fact that the school had little support from the government or private business, other members of the team who had previously been on the Rally before deemed this one of the most improved schools. ‘A small school but big blessings for students and guests alike’.” – Kelsy Moodley
“Under the guidance of our team leader the visits to the Primary schools were an eye-opener that ‘every little bit counts’ in the bigger scheme of things; specifically the experience of witnessing what a major difference the ‘libraries in a box’ are making in these disadvantaged schools. I was quite emotional at the acts of appreciation that were displayed by the communities of Tzaneen. Credit must go to Bidvest, The Read Educational Trust and sponsors for their social investment. Our future lies in the hands of children such as these and being afforded the opportunity to be part of the Rally to Read initiative is something I will always treasure. Keep up the good work, the impact of your efforts is literally ‘immeasurable’.” – Chisanga Chibasa
“I was lucky enough to attend two of the Rally to Read events this year and I was completely humbled by the experience. Both the schools in Limpopo and the Free State were places of hope and I was proud to be part of the team that was able to deliver the resources that will help them continue their great work. The Rally to Read is a great initiative and I would like to thank Bidvest for making it happen!” – Sergio Dos Santos
“I have been on two rallies for the Rally to Read, and nothing touches my heart more than seeing children receive this wonderful gift of education, and learning how to read. It’s so amazing seeing how companies work together to help better South Africa! Thank you, Bidvest and Rally to Read, for including me on such heart-touching weekends! I look forward to doing more! It’s such an awesome experience to be a part of the rally, and meeting new people who feel very strongly about the rally and changing lives.” – Ashley
The 2014 KZN leg of Rally To Read with McCarthy VW Umhlanga
Bidvest - Rally to Read CSI
For more information please log onto: www.rallytoread.co.za