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Ford rescues where Government fails

The Rally to Read campaign culminated in books being delivered to 8 schools near Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape, writes SHERYL GOLDSTUCK.

Rally to Read, a programme managed by the READ Educational Trust, which has benefited thousands of learners around the country through improved literacy and reading, last weekend saw carloads of books delivered to eight disadvantaged schools in the vicinity of Ford’s Struandale engine plant near Gqeberha.

Ford is currently backing two Rally to Read initiatives near its manufacturing plants, with the second in Pretoria. This support, says Ford, reflects its dedication to enhancing the areas where it operates and acknowledges children as the future leaders and innovators of society.

I attended the weekend Rally to Read event in Gqeberha, a vibrant occasion with Ford SA staff and media representatives delivering much-needed resources to beneficiary schools. This year’s event in Nelson Mandela Bay featured a convoy of four groups in Ford vehicles distributing donations to schools.

We were met at the schools by enthused learners and teachers. The learners were excited to showcase their improvement in reading and narrating, highlighting the extent to which future leaders and executives were likely to be found among these beautiful young people.     

Each Rally to Read project spans three years, catering to different stages of schooling, from the foundation phase to the intermediate and senior phases. In Nelson Mandela Bay, this marks the final year of the Rally to Read programme, benefiting eight disadvantaged schools in the vicinity of Ford’s Struandale engine plant. Over the three years, Ford South Africa has provided a grant of R1.36-million annually, aiding in the procurement of age-appropriate books, educational tools, and teacher training.

Funds also contribute to teacher training programmes facilitated by READ field staff in collaboration with the Department of Basic Education, ensuring sustainable and beneficial outcomes for students, teachers, and schools.

“Education, for us, is not merely an expenditure, it is a meaningful and long-lasting investment in the future of South Africa and our people,” says Esther Buthelezi, government affairs and transformation director of Ford South Africa. “Ford’s commitment offers hope, not just to learners, but also to the communities in which they reside. Our journey continues, one book at a time, one child at a time.”

Acknowledging the evolving technological landscape, Ford supports the integration of digital literacy programs in Rally to Read schools, introducing smart projectors for modern and dynamic learning experiences.

With literacy rates deteriorating in South Africa, it is clear that such initiatives fill the gaps left by government.

* For more information on Rally to Read and the READ Educational Trust:

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