Schools in the Eastern Cape to receive 5 000 Tutudesks to assist with classroom desk shortages in the province.

In South Africa alone an estimated 3 million children do not have a classroom desk to work at and across the Sub-Saharan Africa region this number escalates to almost 100 million children attending school without the benefit of a classroom desk to work at.

With only a short period until the Millennium Development Goals (‘MDG’s’) milestone arrives in 2015, education remains a major priority on the global development agenda. The most recent Education For All Global Monitoring Report, released at the start of February 2014, indicates that it will take 72 years to provide quality education for all children in emerging markets at the current rate of development.

A key area of the MDG for Education is the need to urgently improve learning outcomes as well as access, especially in sub-Saharan Africa where half of the world’s out-of-school children live. A primary challenge in South Africa and across Sub-Saharan Africa is the dire lack of classroom furniture in schools.

The Archbishop’s Tutudesk Campaign is addressing classroom desk shortages by providing children with access to portable desks (known as Tutudesks) and in so doing is improving access, supporting literacy development and enhancing academic performance amongst the beneficiaries of the programme.

The Tutudesk Campaign has recently joined forces with the UN’s Special Envoy for Education, Mr Gordon Brown, in support of his Emergency Response Coalition for Education programme initiative, which aims to make rapid improvements in emerging market education development, relative to the findings of the recently released MDG report. Within this partnership, the Tutudesk Campaign will also form part of the wider Special Envoy’s Global Education First Initiative.

In answer to a recent call to action by the Archbishop and starting this month, the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet Fundraising Programme and the Woolworths Trust have joined forces and will be providing 5 000 Tutudesks to beneficiary learners in the Eastern Cape, focusing specifically on schools that have less than 50% of the desks they need. On Wednesday, 29th October Tutudesk Campaign’s Director for Stakeholder Relations, Mrs Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe, will be visiting various schools in the Port Elizabeth area who will receive the first Tutudesks from this unique collaboration. “We believe that the Tutudesk Campaign has the ability to change and improve the lives of millions of African children and collaborating with international education programmes and prestigious South African organisations such as MySchool and the Woolworths Trust will assist us to stay on track for our 2020 goals”, said Mrs. Tutu-Gxashe.

Dr Nyathi Ntsiko, District Director for Education of the Port Elizabeth district Cape: “We are very pleased to be working with the Tutudesk Campaign and want to thank MySchool and the Woolworths Trust for their vital support of our most disadvantaged learners. Their collective input in providing such an innovative solution to one of our most pressing systemic challenges should be celebrated and emulated by others to ensure that we continue to act in meaningful public and private sector partnerships in the best interests of our children’s futures, ensuring that we work together for the betterment of all of our country’s citizens.”

The Tutudesk Campaign has already assisted 1,3 million learners in 24 African countries. Results from an independent research survey covering 16 000 Tutudesk recipients and 500 teachers indicated sharp improvements in multiple areas relating to literacy development and academic performance - 80% of teachers said that learner’s handwriting was easier to read, 77% said that Tutudesk had made learning easier for their students and that they were able to teach more effectively, 76% of teachers advised that Tutudesks had significantly improved the overall learning experience for their pupils  and there was an overall 65% improvement in homework delivery.

The Tutudesk Campaign, a beneficiary of the MySchool programme, relies on local and international funding to continue the work that they do and appeals to the public to support them by getting a MySchool card and selecting them as the beneficiary.