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Rally to Read readies for another year

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Rally to Read, an initiative that distributes books and learning equipment to rural primary schools is getting itself ready for another busy year. This year its target is to raise at least R6-million in sponsorship from more than 100 sponsors.

The organisers of the annual Rally to Read initiative which distributes books and learning equipment to rural primary schools in South Africa is gearing up for another bumper year on the back of the most successful programme in 2010.

‚This far-reaching corporate social investment project, which is backed by the McCarthy Motor Group, the Financial Mail and READ Educational Trust, has been in existence for 13 years now and the progress made over the years is amazing,‚ says the McCarthy Group Internal Communications and CSI Manager, Iris Francis.

‚In the first year a group of 25 four-wheel drive vehicles delivered books worth about R100 000 to 13 schools in rural KwaZulu-Natal and the project was so well-received that it heralded the start of the annual Rally to Read.

‚Since then the project has grown to become national and the number of convoys delivering books and other educational material to far flung rural primary schools has grown substantially.

‚Many major companies have joined the three major sponsors to ensure Rally to Read’s ongoing success and over the years the project has resulted in the investment of more than R42-million in improving the quality of literacy teaching in remote rural primary schools in South Africa that are often neglected by the mainstream education system,‚ added Ms Francis, who is the national co-ordinator of the event.

She went on to say that last year was the best-ever in terms of sponsorship, which reached a record R6,27-million.

Last year the rallies visited 135 schools, where 43 220 learners and 1418 teachers benefited from the programme. Studies have shown that a 16-year-old in one of these remote rural schools can lag up to seven years behind a pupil of the same age at an urban school in terms of literacy ability. Involvement with the Rally to Read programme and the benefits it offers can advance literacy by two years.

As one teacher put it, he was able to progress from teaching ‚potato English‚ to ‚modern English‚ , while students see the arrival of the Rally to Read convoys as the ‚arrival of a miracle.‚

This year the target is to again raise at least R6-million in sponsorship from more than 100 sponsors, while about 1 400 people in 450 vehicles are expected to travel to 150 schools in 10 areas of eight provinces delivering learning aids.

The participants in the 2011 Rally to Read will use their own vehicles to deliver books to the value of R3,6-million, while also kick-starting a teacher development programme worth R2,4-million. In addition these people will deliver sponsored science kits, additional stocks of books, stationery, sports equipment and other useful items to the schools they visit.

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