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Pencil in education on Mandela Day - and improve the prospects of South Africa's learners

Studying is never straightforward for pupils of Mzomhle Senior Secondary School. Before hitting the books, the hundreds of learners and their teachers must first engage in a complicated dance of who will take the textbook home.
That’s because the school - located in the township of Mdantsane situated between East London and King William's Town in the Eastern Cape - never has enough textbooks to go around.

Principal Malusi Kotlana was thus, obviously delighted to be contacted by Adopt-a-School Foundation asking for his stationery wishlist.

“We need top-ups so that each and every learner has his or her own textbook,” he says. “At the moment, learners share textbooks which makes studying difficult. We also have to make photocopies. This has a massive impact on our results as well as our finances.”

Adopt-a-School Foundation was officially launched in 2002 after Cyril Ramaphosa was asked by his former primary school for a donation of a fax machine. When he went to the school to hand over the machine, he realised the school had a myriad of other needs too. Ramaphosa together with a group of individuals then established the foundation under which corporate South Africa is encouraged to “adopt” schools across the country.

“Through our work, we aim to improve not only the schools and learners with which we work,” says Ramaphosa, “but also the larger community. While our approach is comprehensive and detailed, our vision is a focused one – to support the creation and enhancement of conducive learning and teaching environments. It is a vision and a passion that drives us to achieve more, for the sake of our learners and our country.”

The Foundation has benefited from well-structured public-private partnerships and has, since inception, been able to facilitate the adoption of 612 schools. This has meant that over 730,000 learners have benefited directly, 2,542 teachers have been trained and 7,345 temporary jobs have been created.

In 2012, the Adopt-a-School Foundation launched Back to School for a Day, a corporate volunteer initiative that encourages companies to go back to school and make a difference through donating their time, knowledge, skills and resources.

Back to School for a Day coincides with International Mandela Day, held annually on 18 July, and has been endorsed by the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The initiative will run from the 15-22 July to help accommodate the tight schedules of corporates.

This year’s theme is “Pencil it in”, and calls on corporates to support schools like Mzomhle – by delivering the stationery they so desperately need (from pens and textbooks to photocopy and laminating machines).

If you would like to adopt a school or want to join the Back to School for a Day campaign, visit

For more information, please contact Cassandra Pireu (011) 592 6560 or email az.oc.loohcsatpoda@ueripc.

7 Jul 2016 15:06