Zanele Motsepe’s desire to inspire and realise the dreams of pupils who come from poor communities is taking shape in the form of her Pledge A Bag Campaign.
This initiative from the Plumstead teacher is a bag with educational material, and, on Tuesday, Ms Motsepe delivered 110 bags to the Grade 1s of Ntwasahlobo Primary School in Khayelitsha.
While making a speech to the parents and school staff that were gathered at the school hall, the soft-spoken teacher couldn’t contain her excitement, shedding tears of joy .
Reflecting on her life, she said she said her parents were teachers. She said she started the campaign in October last year after realising how hard it is to have a child in school.
Her focus is on Grade 1s because she believes the foundation phase is the most important. She said any house built without a proper foundation would not last.
“I am driven by a passion for education. I started the drive through social networks like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Last year my daughter started Grade 1, and when I was called to school about the books, pencils and other stationery, I realised it was tough to be a parent who has nothing.
“That is how the idea came about. I thought of parents who are unemployed, especially from poor communities. We all know that in our black and coloured communities the rate of unemployment is high. That is where my focus is,” she said.
She added that she chose Grade 1s because of the literacy gap she noticed as a high school teacher. She said most pupils are having difficulty reading at high school.
“The package has a reading book. I urge parents to assist their children to read. I hope this campaign is the start to unlocking hopes and dreams. The Grade 1s symbolise the start of a 12-year educational journey. It is a start to a future.
“These bags came from different people and individuals concerned about the black child’s future. There are a lot of people who are interested, so I hope next year I will be able to give to many schools,” she said.
She praised the Ntwasahlobo Primary School governing body, Equal Education, the Khayelitsha Education Forum and the school principal, Sam Sehloho, for their commitment to education.
Mr Sehloho said his school is a no-fee school that needs all the help from people like Ms Motsepe. He said Khayelitsha is one of the areas where the unemployment rate is high.
He said Ms Motsepe’s focus on Grade 1s is in line with the Metro East Education’s because they are also focusing on Grade 1s.
“We all know that from a foundation comes a pillar. I like the fact that she focused on the foundation phase. She has also given us reading materials that will help the children to read, helped by their parents and teachers of course. If one cannot read, that person is going nowhere. We are grateful to her,” he said.
School governing body chairperson Nokuthula Kala urged all parents to take care of the books and help their children read. She thanked Ms Motsepe for thinking about the poor areas.