• 1100 bicycles donated to 20 rural schools in Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal
• Volkswagen is one of the largest donors of the BEEP programme
Volkswagen through its partners, Qhubeka, World Vision South Africa and World Vision Switzerland handed over 600 bicycles to the learners of 11 rural schools in the Nkonkobe district in Eastern Cape as part of the Bicycle Education Empowerment Programme (BEEP). This brings the total number of Volkswagen’s sponsored bicycles handed over to the rural schools in the past two months to 1100, following 500 bicycles that were delivered to nine rural schools in Umzimkhulu, KwaZulu Natal in April.
Recent reports revealed that of the estimated 17-million children in school in South Africa, 11-million of them walk to school each day. Nearly 500 000 of these learners walk more than an hour or up to 6km one way to school. The high rate of school dropouts in rural communities especially of girls has been partly attributed to the walking distance endured by the learners. The girls’ plight is also exacerbated by an extra burden of morning household chores which increases tardiness and exhaustion.
The Bicycle Education Empowerment Programme (BEEP) which was started in 2009 in Zambia by World Bicycle Relief, found bicycles as a safe, reliable and affordable mode of transportation for the learners. Qhubeka in partnership with World Vision South Africa introduced BEEP in South Africa in 2013 and to date 8 100 bicycles have been delivered in five provinces.
“Education is one of our key pillars in our quest to be a company with meaning and impact through our Corporate Social Investment initiatives under the banner of Volkswagen for Good. As the maker of people’s car, we are passionate about South Africa. This drives us to working towards making a sustainable difference in the fight against poverty and community upliftment,” said Thomas Schaefer, Managing Director: Volkswagen Group South Africa.
Schaefer added: “Through our partnership with Qhubeka and World Vision South Africa, we seek to make a small difference but with big impact on the lives of young boys and girls in the most rural parts of our country. We are very hopeful that these bicycles will change the learners’ approach to their schooling and encourage them to work harder to be the best that they want to be.”
“Qhubeka is delighted to be partnering with Volkswagen to provide access to education through bicycles to children in South Africa. Thanks to Volkswagen’s generous donation distance no longer needs to be a barrier to education for 1100 school children in Nkonkobe and Umzimkhulu. Research shows that education is an essential element in the fight to end the cycle of poverty in developing countries. With BEEP we can make an immediate difference to school attendance as well as improve children’s wellbeing with reliable and affordable transportation,” Sarah Phaweni, Qhubeka Executive Director.
Comments Paula Barnard, national director of World Vision SA: “With BEEP 2015 well underway we’re undoubtedly meeting what we set out to achieve, reaching the most rural of communities to enable these children to attend school on time and so improve their overall educational outcomes.”
Each benefiting learner receives a bicycle with a helmet, spanner, combination lock and pump. The learner and parents or guardian are required to sign a contract which stipulates the terms and conditions of using the bicycle. A Bicycle Supervisory Committee is also setup at each recipient school and represented by teachers, SGB (student governing body) members and parents. The Bicycle Supervisory Committee’s role is to not only select beneficiaries but also enforce the two-year service-to-own contract which governs the use of the bicycle.
The bicycle becomes the personal property of the learner after the two years of the contract have elapsed.
Volkswagen is one of the largest donors of the BEEP programme. The cost of one bicycle is R2 320, and cost covers amongst other things component manufacturing, delivery, helmet, training of the field mechanic as well as ADP’s monitoring and evaluation programme.