“The organisation of ordinary citizens to support the education of our children is limited only by the boundaries of our collective imagination”.
These were the words of our chairman Cyril Ramaphosa following the launch of Adopt-a-School’s Back to School for a Day initiative in May 2012. Three years later this annual event continues to make a meaningful impact on thousands of school children and their schooling environment. Not only has this initiative inspired hundreds of corporate volunteers to share their time, skills and physical resources, but it has also proven the value of and need for active citizenship.
The true potential of Back to School for a Day extends far beyond just an annual day of action. It encourages citizens to become involved in improving education on a sustained basis. Adopt-a-School believes it is well placed to motivate individuals to make sustainable and effective contributions.
We all have the means to make a meaningful contribution. All one needs is the platform and then the motivation. Back to School for a Day is such a platform and its benefits extend far beyond simple individual actions. It allows individuals to get a clearer sense of the challenges in education and to take a more informed approach to seeking solutions. Over the last three years, this one day of collective action in our schools has helped to instil a sense of community and appreciation of the value of service amongst all of the different organisations who get involved.
Those who volunteer in our schools sacrificed a few hours of their time but left behind both physical and psychological improvements that will last for a very long time. These activities affirm the value that society places on the success of our children. It offers them encouragement, recognition and inspiration. We have also seen how the moral of teachers has been lifted when they realise that society appreciates their work. As the late Maya Angelou said, “They may not remember everything you said and did, but they will never forget the way they made you feel”.
Since the initiative began close to 100 companies and over 4,000 volunteers have taken part. Over 150 schools around the country have benefited and tens of thousands of learners have benefited from a variety of activities. In addition to the physical makeovers, activities have also included career guidance programmes, debating workshops, literacy activities and motivational talks.