Volkswagen Community Trust

Volkswagen Community Trust celebrates 25 years with the launch of a children's literacy programme

07 October 2015

At the beginnng of September, the Volkswagen Community Trust celebrated its 25th anniversary by launching a flagship initiative that is aimed at promoting meaningful literacy in the first 10 years of a child's life.

According to research, 60% of schools nationally have no libraries and in the Eastern Cape the figure stands at a staggering 80% and further statistics show that children have limited access to story books at home. 27% of pupils do not read any books at home with 36% of pupils not having any books to read at home.

This means that essentially a lot of children have never seen a storybook, except those readers they get at schools.

The Early Childhood Development initiative will focus on reducing functional illiteracy, education and mental stimulation of young children.

The two-day celebrations, which coincided with National Book Week, took place at Volkswagens's PeoplePavilion in Uitenhage.

The event included a Book Fair where over 200 children were  involved in various group activities aimed at fostering a love of reading.

The event was attended by a high-level delegation on education led by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga along with leading education researchers, celebrated authors and thought leaders.

"In order to address illiteracy, especially in the Foundation Phase, the Department of Basic Education will be re-activating and opening      1 000 libraries every year until 2019," added Minister Motshekga.

The Minister highlighted the importance of forging meaningful relationships in terms of addressing early childhood development issues and literacy which are at the forefront of basic education.

In his address, Thomas Schaefer, Managing Director of VWSA emphasised the major role played by the Volkswagen Community Trust in the local community development in the past two decades.

"Our employees under the leadership of the late John Gomomo as well as local community structures played a pivotal role in the formation of the Community Trust. In the past 25 years, the Trust has continued to be responsive to community needs and relevant to the current realities," said Schaefer.

"Some of the other achievements of the Volkswagen Community Trust include the launch of the John Gomomo bursary as well as the disbursement of over R14 million part-bursaries to 1 249 students. The Trust has also given grants of over R5-million to local community cooperatives for local economic development, skills development and job creation."    

"Our goal is to continue working together with all stakeholders present today and the funding community to ensure that all children and learners in our communities of Uitenhage and Despatch are functionally literate by the time they reach the age of 10," concluded Schaefer. VWSA has invested more than R100 million on CSI projects during the Trust's existence.

There has been a strong emphasis on education, youth development, enterprise development, health and community wellbeing. In addition, environmental initiatives and employee volunteerism have also been focused upon.