As learners across the country prepare to go back to school, more than 3 million will return to classrooms with no desks – a stark reality facing children in so many of our country’s peri-urban and rural areas.
The Tutudesk campaign, which has provided portable school desks, known as Tutudesks, to children in sub-Saharan Africa for over a decade, is an initiative close the heart of Erik Roos, CEO of Pharma Dynamics.
Over the last two years, Pharma Dynamics has donated in excess of 45 000 Tutudesks to beneficiary schools in Mpumalanga and Limpopo to help realise the Tutudesk’s goal of getting 20 million desks to 20 million children by 2025.
As millions of learners return to school during the COVID-19 outbreak, Roos has made it his mission to ensure that children are both safe and have the right tools to equip themselves for the ‘new normal’.
To demonstrate his commitment, he will be donating a further R1,2 million toward the Tutudesk project, which will give thousands more learners access to a desk – a critically important tool in their literacy and academic development. These Tutudesks also contain important COVID-19 related education messaging, designed to ensure that the beneficiary children and their communities are, and remain, constantly informed as to how best to stay safe during the pandemic.
To build on the campaign, Roos is challenging other business executives to do the same.
“We are living in unprecedented times, which has caused a global disruption in many sectors, including education. As captains of industry, we have the dual means to change the impact of the pandemic and make a long-lasting, positive difference to millions of learners throughout our country by supporting the Tutudesk campaign.
“Research shows that the provision of Tutudesks to learners facilitate sharp, immediate improvements in multiple areas relating to literacy development and academic performance. Eighty percent of teachers cite an improvement in learners’ handwriting, 77% says it has made learning easier for their students and that they are able to teach more effectively. There is also an overall 65% improvement in homework delivery as the desks are portable and can be taken home.
“While many learners may have desks, books, internet connectivity, a laptop or tablet at home or school, the reality is that so many others don’t. We need to, urgently and wherever possible, minimise the differences in opportunities and level the playing field in order to facilitate and expand learning and not allow the COVID-19 crisis to have an even larger, detrimental impact on the learning of less-fortunate children and youth.
“Providing learners in impoverished areas with Tutudesks is an immediate and effective way in which CEOs and business leaders can respond – at grassroots level – to immediately improve learning during the crisis, as well as constantly inculcating COVID-19 educational messaging to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable members of our society.
“I am calling on all CEO’s to join us in supporting this vitally important initiative. Let’s give our youth the best chance of staying engaged in learning amid the pandemic,” encourages Roos.
The unique, imprinted messaging on each Tutudesk ensures that a ‘mobile billboard’ is created, serving as a constant, visual reminder of what learners should do to limit their risk of getting infected with COVID-19.
The messaging on the Tutudesk acts as a unique, high impact mobile billboard as children move between school and home – educating not only learners, but also parents and communities at large about the threat that COVID-19 poses, as well as the measures they can employ to safeguard themselves and their loved ones.
As the Tutudesks are portable, they also assist greatly in ensuring learners ‘social distance’ correctly in their classrooms – even in settings where desks are available.
Roos’ goal is to generate in excess of R8 million in funding to gift learners with another 50 000 Tutudesks during the 3rd school term.
To participate in Pharma Dynamics’ Tutudesk COVID-19 Challenge, interested companies or philanthropic organisations can contact Pharma Dynamics at email@example.com.