Poor pupils in under-resourced rural and township schools are set to receive study guides and education-related materials paid for by the Motsepe Foundation.
In addition, they will also be able to access to online learning materials through computer centres following a R1 billion pledge announced by the foundation and associate companies during a virtual media conference on Saturday.
Sanlam, African Rainbow Capital and African Rainbow Minerals are part of the project.
Patrice Motsepe, founder and chairperson of the Motsepe Foundation, said their short- to medium-term interventions would include building additional classrooms, computer centres and laboratories across the provinces to assist with the excessively high number of pupils in classrooms which was not conducive in the wake of Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and the social distancing requirements.
“Those schools in the poor rural and urban areas, which do not have internet access or facilities, will be assisted with study guides, scientific calculators, dictionaries and other educational equipment and facilities identified in consultation with the department of basic education, school principals and teachers,” Motsepe said.
He said poor and underdeveloped communities were ill-prepared to deal with the serious challenges and consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and were in dire need of assistance and contributions.
“We are committed to contributing to the provision of quality education, infrastructure and other facilities to better prepare and equip them to deal with future pandemics or catastrophes,” he said.
He said the foundation would focus on the poor especially those in rural areas.
Motsepe also said several million rands will immediately be made available with the primary objective of saving lives, slowing and restraining the spread of Covid-19.
These objectives include purchasing sanitisers, disinfectants and personal protective equipment.
“We’ve been advised that access to water for regularly washing hands in crucial for slowing and limiting the spread of the coronavirus. We are therefore providing water to poor rural and urban communities by purchasing water tanks [Jojos], drilling and equipping for borehole water and also building sanitary facilities,” Motsepe said.
His wife Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, the deputy chairperson of the foundation, said it was time for universities to rethink how poor students could have access to online education especially during this fourth industrial revolution.
Moloi-Motsepe, who is also the chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT), said they have been in discussion with other universities in relation to this issue.
She said UCT had approached the foundation recently for assistance and R5 million was made available when she learnt about the plight of a poor student who had no access to a computer.
Moloi-Motsepe said this was a difficult time for students and assured them that universities would be reopening to help them graduate.
ARC chief executive Johan van Zyl said it was time for everyone to demonstrate leadership and help.
“ARC is a fairly young company with limited financial resources. Yet, it remains important that we make a contribution.
“In this regard, we are partnering with companies and organisations with which we have common interests and share common values to ensure that the positive impact we aim to make is felt,” van Zyl said.
He said they have been in contact with ministers, MECs and government’s Covid-19 Solidarity Fund to identify specific initiatives to partner in.
“There may be upliftment and developmental undertakings where they are better positioned than we are, in which case we may fund or donate with them on a particular project or partnerships.”
Sanlam CEO Ian Kirk said the company was proud to partner with the Motsepe Foundation and associate companies.
“We believe these efforts will make a meaningful contribution, not only towards fighting the coronavirus, but also in developing long-term sustainability of South Africans, particularly in poor and rural areas.
“Periods of profound uncertainty such as these call for us to come together to support all the prudent actions that contain the scourge of this virus and its impact on our already fragile economy,” Kirk said.
It was also revealed that small, medium and micro business enterprises in rural areas and townships would also benefit.