SA Taxi Foundation focuses on literacy

SA Taxi Foundation focuses on literacy

SA Taxi Foundation, the corporate social investment arm of SA Taxi, the country’s only independent financer of minibus taxis and one of the country’s few certified developmental credit providers, will focus 50% of its 2017 budget on increasing literacy levels among learners, teachers, and parents.


“A number of factors core to our business and to society in general caused us to more closely concentrate our social investment efforts in this area,” says SA Taxi director of corporate affairs, Bonisile Makubalo. “Because all of the SA Taxi Group’s operations are based on incubating small businesses and then giving the new entrepreneurs access to business and other relevant training, we see on a daily basis how lack of literacy impairs the development of skills.


“Also, because the majority of our customers in the minibus taxi, bakkie, and metered taxi industries come from the informal sector, a large part of our job is to help them transition to the formal economy. Literacy is a crucial tool in that process. Simply being able to read a bank statement or an insurance policy can make the difference between the success or failure of a small business.


“In addition, research shows that 40% of children in Africa below the age of 15 can neither read nor write.


“So, if steps are not taken now to reduce that percentage, yet another generation of South Africans will be unable to participate in the mainstream economy.”


SA Taxi Foundation has a number of conventional education initiatives in place, including a bursary programme, now in its second year. The 2016 crop of students are all taking challenging business courses. Ndumiso Mcoliver, for instance, is achieving a 60% average in his actuarial science degree at Wits, having been recommended to SA Taxi Foundation by the taxi association serving the area in which he lives. He says he wants to use his degree to solve socio-economic problems.


Dineo Hlokwa, whose Sunday School mentor applied on her behalf for an SA Taxi Foundation bursar, is studying for her National Diploma in Economic Management Analysis with the objective of understanding the dynamics of wealth creation in society.


“We choose our bursary beneficiaries based on both their academic achievements and their social awareness and desire to help transform South Africa,” Makubalo says. “We’re a small organisation. So, for our corporate social investment in the conventional form of bursaries to have a telling impact, we want it to reinforce our developmental ethos.”


In addition to helping young South Africans access the formal education system, SA Taxi Foundation takes literacy into new territory. Its support for iRead Africa enables the establishment of ‘reading corners’ in hospital paediatric wards where children looking for distraction from their illnesses or treatments can discover the entertainment and education benefits of literature.


The Foundation also supports the SAPESI initiative in which refurbished mobile libraries from Japan are being deployed throughout the country. Some 70 vehicles will extend mobile library services to some 2 000 schools, 420 000 learners, and 14 000 teachers by 2020.


“Both iRead and SAPESI incorporate adults into the spread of literacy,” Makubalo says. “Through SAPESI, teachers not only have access to resources to aid their teaching but can also deepen their own literacy.


“Through iRead, the caregivers and families of the hospitalised children can also experience the expansion of one’s world that comes from reading just for the pleasure of it.


“Obviously, one can teach people the mechanics of reading in formal classes and institutionalised settings. But, when people start to read because they enjoy it, then you have a thinking society brimming with ideas that will improve the quality of life for everyone.”