According to a 2016 study published in the South African Early Childhood Review, around 63% of young South African children live in poverty. This translates to a shocking 3 969 000 impoverished children around the country, with the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo having the highest rates.
Salaamedia and Salaam Foundation make South African education their main priority, seeking to empower young learners and equip them with proper care, academic tools and facilities. Due to the success of their #Riding4SAeducation campaign in 2017, the organisation rallied the support of like-minded NGO’s and individuals to partake in the cycling-based project this year.
The 2018 effort brought several organisations together, including Africa Muslims Agency, Islamic Relief SA, Nyota Collections and Al Ihya Foundation, for the common cause of highlighting the plight of South African learners.
Starting their journey on the 12 of February 2018 in Polokwane, the group of riders visited destitute schools along their route through various towns in the Limpopo and North West provinces. They also took assessments of the different needs within the schools and plan to strategise on if and how they will be able to assist.
One of the most dilapidated schools they visited was Stinkhout Primary, just outside Zeerust in the North West. “The walls of the prefabricated classrooms were rotting. The school’s pit toilets have not been cleaned since late last year, the borehole is non-functional,” said Azhar Vadi of Salaam Foundation. Up to 80 learners were cramped into the classrooms, which also had sagging floors.
The Muslim community of Zeerust has been trying for some time to supply bottles of water to the school, which is situated 15km outside the town. This has however come to an end and the learners are now dependent on a supply from neighbouring farms.
In Lichtenburg, the team visited a school that had an average of 120 learners per classroom. “Situations like this are simply unacceptable. The Department of Education needs to seriously look into what it is doing to ensure that the future of South Africa is secured through the provision of quality education,” said Vadi. “While we can raise some funding through the various towns we pass through, ultimately this is a government function. We need to add pressure on the provincial and national departments to ensure that adequate funding reaches the children of South Africa.”
This year the incredible journey spanned 1160km and ended in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, on the 25 February 2018 with a mountain bike race and family outdoor market.
Salaam Foundation coordinator, Fatima Sookharia, said the event was a great success. “We wanted more people to participate in #Riding4SAeducation. So we hosted the MTB event and despite the rain, we had cyclists, young and old, taking to the hills around Lenasia. As the weather cleared we had a fantastic day all in aid of education in South Africa.”
This remarkable event is now expected to become an annual occurrence, bringing much-needed attention to struggling schools and poverty-stricken learners. We commend all the riders involved, whose long journey has brought hope, care and love to these children, reminding them that they have not been forgotten.
*Special thanks to Azhar Vadi for his collaboration on this article.
For more information or to get involved, please contact Salaamedia on 011 680 0355/081 706 4622 or email email@example.com
Alternatively, make a donation towards SA education:
Account: Salaam Foundation
Account no: 62669147665
Reference: Education (lillah/zakaah)