Bicycles Bring Change! Rewriting History And Changing Live in the Karoo!
Photo Cred: Qhubeka

Calitzdorp set to change the lives of hundreds of locals who walk to school over a long distance.


The Karoo, South Africa (07 May 2022) – The little Karoo town of Calitzdorp in the Western Cape is about to rewrite history and change the lives of hundreds of local learners who walk to school over a long distance.

According to the UCT Children’s Institute, 67% of children in South Africa walk to school. The Institute found that “those who travel long distances to reach school may wake very early and risk arriving late or physically exhausted, affecting their ability to learn. Walking long distances to school may also lead to learners being excluded from class or make it difficult to attend school regularly.”

Jan Scannell (Jan Braai), a resident of Calitzdorp, and his friend Nic Alberts recognised this challenge and decided to get in touch with Qhubeka, a global charity that moves people forward with bicycles in Africa. From as far back as 2005, Jan Braai combined his passion for braai and cycling to unite and uplift the community through various ride and braai initiatives like Tour de Braai.

In 2015, Jan and Ninety One (then Investec Asset Management) decided to combine efforts to help the town’s high school children get bicycles from Qhubeka.

“Donating bicycles to high school children in the Karoo would not only reduce travel time but also improve academic outcomes, as children can give more time to schoolwork,” says Jan Braai.

Since the large-scale contributions of bicycles began in 2019, the drop-out rate of learners has declined by 7.5% to 0% in the final year. The matric pass rate has increased materially from 56.6% to 82.8%.

“The success of the social initiative between Jan Braai and Ninety One grew to include two of South Africa’s largest mutual societies, AVBOB Mutual Assurance Society and the Professional Provident Society (PPS) and, joining the partnership in 2022, one of South Africa’s leading financial services organisations, Alexforbes. All the organisations realise that the combined power of their social focus in areas of overlap will be stronger than any of their individual efforts.”

In addition to the Qhubeka bicycle donation and the opening of the first library at Gamka-Oos Primary School, the partnership has grown to include Namene Solar, a company striving to eradicate fossil-fuelled lighting sources globally. Through the support of the partners, Namene Solar will provide the learners of the two primary schools in the Karoo (Gamka-Oos and Excelsior Primary) as well as the Calitzdorp High School with pico solar lights.

Calitzdorp High School has 30 to 40 boarding school learners who have no access to electricity when they get home at the weekend. Around 90% of the 341 learners at Gamka Oos Primary School have limited or no access to electricity at home. Providing pico solar lights improves conditions for home studying due to better lighting and vastly improved air quality, leading to a subsequent increase in study hours, learner health and grade improvements. Solar lights also provide a long-term savings benefit for households due to avoided expenditure on electricity, kerosene, candles and batteries.

This year the partnership will again focus on bicycles and with the number of Qhubeka bicycles in Calitzdorp now reaching a critical mass, the contributions from this initiative will also allow for a permanent bicycle mechanic to be based in Calitzdorp (thus also creating employment opportunities).

Through this social partnership, on 6 May 2022, Calitzdorp High School will receive 201 Qhubeka bicycles (bringing the total number of bicycles that this initiative has delivered in the region to over 600!) and 40 Namene Solar lights, and Gamka-Oos and Excelsior Primary School will receive more than 930 lights – one for every learner.

The library at Gamka-Oos Primary School will be upgraded by The Bookery (an NGO focused on improving literacy). In addition to the above, three university students that attended Calitzdorp High School will receive laptops to further enhance their tertiary learning to become future professionals. Should a 2022 matric learner from Calizdorp High School attend university in 2023, the PPS Foundation will consider assisting a student with top-up funding and a laptop. This would be subject to the qualifying criteria required.

Sources: Qhubeka
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Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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