Nedbank's 2012 Back-to-School campaign is giving underprivileged pupils the pride to go to school with all the resources they need to make a success of learning.
At the launch ceremony, held on 24 January at Thabanaswane Primary School in Ga Masemola, Limpopo province, 150 pupils from four schools in the area received essential school items such as uniforms, shoes, stationery, books, bags and sports kits, to start their school year on a high note.
The schools are Thabanaswane Primary, Shushu Primary, Tsoatago Primary and Makgoabe Primary.
Attending the event were Namane Dickson Masemola, MEC of education in Limpopo; Sekhukhune district mayor David Magabe Mogobo; Kgoshigadi Masemola, the tribal chief at Ga Masemola; Limpopo member of parliament Nelson Diale; Lupi Ngcayisa, from the Lupi Ngcayisa Foundation; and mayor of Makhuduthamaga, Makaeya Matlala.
Kone Gugushe, Nedbank's divisional executive for corporate social responsibility (CSR), said: "Education is one of our CSR focus areas and we are delighted to partner with the Department of Basic Education to ensure that all pupils are able to focus on their studies rather than worry about the lack of school resources."
Gugushe said the back-to-school campaign aims to give disadvantaged pupils an equal opportunity to be the best they can be.
Nedbank is investing R2-million (US$251 000) in its 2012 campaign. Some 1 800 pupils across the country will benefit from the initiative.
"We are gathered here today because we know the importance of education and the role we have to play to ensure that you get the best education possible," said Ciko Thomas, managing executive for consumer banking in Nedbank's retail division.
Why Limpopo first
Limpopo province was chosen first because of a link between Ga Masemola and certain fund-raising efforts in Johannesburg.
Nicholas Mampana, a shoe-shiner at Nedbank's head office in Sandton, hails from Limpopo. He's worked there for the past nine years and managed to raise R124 000 ($15 600) through Nedbank's Retail Staff Volunteerism Programme, which encourages staff to use their time for worthy causes.
Nedbank added another R100 000 ($12 500) to the amount raised by Mampana, who chose two of the back-to-school beneficiaries.
Mampana said: "In 2002 I met the director of Nedbank at the Hilton Hotel where I used to work and he told me he wanted me to work at their offices.
"I saved some money from the tips I received, as I remembered how I used to feel going to school with no shoes in my hometown of Ga Masemola. This is why I'm here today making sure youngsters in my community don't go through what I went through."
Mampana said although he used to meet international stars and bigwigs while working at the Hilton, and loved his job there, he doesn't miss it because it didn't afford him the opportunity to help his community.
MEC Masemola said: "Nedbank has shown its commitment to education every year and I would like to take this opportunity to say we appreciate the work they do."
Limpopo matric pupils improved their pass rate by 6% in 2011, going from 57.9% in 2010 to 63.9% last year.
Thabanaswane and Nedbank partnership
Thabanaswane Primary had one block of classes with only four classrooms and four ablution facilities when Obed Tshebetshebe became principal in 2006.
Tshebetshebe applied to the Nedbank Foundation for assistance in improving facilities.
Two years would go by before Tshebetshebe received a call in 2008 saying the foundation would donate R496 400 ($62 000) to build another block of classes.
Nedbank built another block of four classrooms and five ablution facilities and also donated an Edutainer Container for early childhood development.
This container has educational toys and is used to house Grade R pupils.
Special focus on rural areas and informal settlements
Ngcayisa, the founder of the Lupi Ngcayisa Foundation, has been collecting school shoes for underprivileged pupils since 2009.
Ngcayisa said: "Our selection process looks at the poorest of the poor and we have a bias that favours pupils from rural areas and informal settlements as they have it the worst."
He knows exactly what he's talking about as he was raised in a shack in Walmer in Port Elizabeth.
"As a kid who grew up in a township characterised by despair, I was intrigued by a couple shopping for school shoes for their daughter in one of Johannesburg's suburbs three years ago," said Ngcayisa. "The young girl's smile inspired me to seek to create or rather duplicate this delight in other children who unlike her, had never worn school shoes."
He collected 16 600 school shoes in 2009, 27 700 in 2010 and 43 400 in 2011.
People who would like to donate school shoes to the foundation can drop them off at their nearest SABC office, and corporations who wish to help can contact Bata Toughees and buy directly from them at a discount.