Vodacom’s Walk A Child to School campaign has partnered with the Exhibition for a Child, a Non-Profit Organization which focuses on community based educational initiatives for rural learner development to distribute 1 130 shoes and 1 130 pairs of socks to learners at schools throughout the Eastern Cape. The initiative supports the mobile operator’s commitment to enhancing access to quality education and ensuring youth can succeed in South Africa. 

“Learners throughout South Africa often must walk long distances to school every day. Imagine this challenge barefoot, as many parents are unable to afford proper footwear. At Vodacom, we believe in education as empowering tool for young people in this country, but without access to essentials, how can learners concentrate, perform well, and want to stay in school? Over the past three years, we have donated socks and shoes to over 1900 children in schools in the Eastern Cape, as we aim to remove barriers to fulfilling our youth’s potential and ensuring no one is left behind,” says Mpumelelo Khumalo, Managing Executive, Vodacom Eastern Region. 

In the most recent National Household Transport Survey, 63% of learners across the country ‘walk all the way’ to school, with those in rural areas more likely to travel on foot due to the lack and expense of available transport. A pair of shoes can help protect feet from the elements, especially in winter, and prevent the risk of injury or infection so that learning is not disrupted and is a more comfortable experience. 

Since January this year, Vodacom has been distributing more than 2 000 items of footwear to 14 schools in the Eastern Cape, including: Gertrude Shope, Newell High School, JS Skenjana, Qenqeleka Senior Primary School, Avonton Senior Primary School, Mthiza High School, Nyibiba Primary School, Mangala Senior Secondary School, Leppan Senior Primary School, Phillip Mtywaku Senior Secondary School, Archie Velile Senior Secondary School, Swane Junior Secondary School, Dudumeni Senior Secondary School and Phahamang Senior Primary School.

Vodacom’s partnership with NPOs is on and above various other educational initiatives in the region, such as the Vodacom Sustainable Living project, which involves schools to inspire youth to enter the agriculture sector and improve food security. In addition, Vodacom Eastern Region donated scientific calculators to local schools to encourage uptake in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) subjects, and enable youth to be equal participants in the digital age. 

“We continue to work with the Department of Basic Education and non-government organisations to build a strong education ecosystem that has the right resources so that learners are equipped with skills and tools to contribute meaningfully to South Africa’s socio-economic development. These initiatives underpin our purpose in connecting everyone to better a future,” concludes Khumalo.