The Rally to Read Story – As told by Brand Pretorius
The Rally to Read initiative is about a powerful Public-Private partnership which has been in place since 1998 when different organisations – each with different, valuable assets to share – decided to work together to advance a common cause.
And what was this cause? To improve the literacy skills of learners at remote rural primary schools to acceptable levels. Without such skills, they had difficulty completing school, studying further, progressing in a career and contributing as citizens. Scientific surveys indicated that these schools were particularly challenged. Inaccessibility, alongside few if any resources, compromised their ability to develop these skills and equip their learners for a positive future.
Partner 1 was the READ Educational Trust which had literacy development as its core
mission, since its establishment in 1973.
Partner 2, McCarthy Motor Holdings – which I headed up the time – which had access to a CSI budget as well as off-road vehicles. McCarthy saw the opportunity to work with READ and Partner 3, the Department of Education, in support of remote, rural schools.
Working together, the first Rally to Read was organised and took place in May 1998 in the
Nkandla area of Kwa Zulu Natal.
- A cluster of 12 remote schools was identified to be supported by READ for a 2-year period, later extended to 3 years.
40 classroom box-libraries were to be delivered
- For delivery assistance, we turned to our customers who had bought 4X4s and challenged them to put their vehicles to good use in support of a cause that was critical to all our futures. In exchange, they would have a free, fun weekend exploring a remote, beautiful part of our country.
- In total 20 groups of volunteers took up the challenge and what a welcome we received! And what an experience the Rally drivers and their passengers had!
- Most importantly, READ’s follow-up training and support to the schools proved to be highly effective with literacy levels soaring.
A natural conclusion after this event was that the partnership had to expand. With over 3 000 rural schools in South Africa a wider collaboration was essential to making a marked difference to the country’s future.
Partner 4, The Financial Mail came to our aid by alerting its influential readers to the opportunity to sponsor a Rally vehicle, which would help cover the costs of purchasing the educational materials and the costs involved in providing teacher training. In addition, they would use their own vehicles to deliver the books and have the opportunity to explore little-visited parts of South Africa, in the process. Support grew phenomenally, and soon 10 Rallies were being held annually, in 8 different provinces.
Partner 5 – Rally Vehicle Sponsors – was now in place!
Today, 22 years later … READ continues with its core role, in support of the Rally’s foundation partner, the Department of Education. A total of 175 rallies have taken place and 925 schools and 14 700 teachers have been supported. The literacy levels of 615 000 learners have been greatly enhanced. In 2019 The Jonsson Foundation assumed the role of Lead Partner, empowering READ to organise and manage this wonderful programme.
The FM continues to provide active coverage in support of the Rally. The 6 Rally weekends are hosted and funded by The Jonsson Foundation, OneLogix, Ford, Shell and Mercedes Benz.
And Rally vehicles partners – individuals and businesses from around the country – actively support this drive as Crusaders for literacy in South Africa. Their companies also receive B-BBEE and Section 18a acknowledgement for this critical role they play. Everything is in place for Rally to Read 2020!
Rally to Read is an extra-ordinary story of caring, collaboration and hope – of things intensely human. It is uniquely South African and is about things that move the human spirit. It is about giving, sharing and discovering – for the good of all….
AN EXAMPLE OF A PARTNERSHIP, AT ITS BEST!
The Steering Committee
In 2018, READ Education Trust took on the national coordination of the Rally to READ, guided
by a strong Steering Committee with committed and experienced volunteers.
The Rally to Read is overseen by a Steering Committee.
Chairman and co-founder of Rally to Read.
READ National Director.
READ PR and Fundraising Manager.
Financial Mail, Editor at large. Rally key media partner since 1999.
Previous Rally Coordinator (2007-2014)
Private donor. Rally sponsor since 2000.
Consultant. Co-founder of Rally to Read, Rally Coordinator (1997- 2005), WC and then KZN Berg Rally volunteer / co-organiser 2006-present.
Director, The Jonsson Foundation & Western Cape Host sponsor since 2018.