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Supporting EDU-FUN’s mission to advance education and literacy

In line with Michelin SA’s commitment to "respect for people" and making a tangible difference in the world, we recently donated R60 000 to EDU-FUN, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to enhancing education and literacy in underserved communities.

Why we chose to support EDU-FUN

Thobeka Pule, a Salesforce administrator at Michelin, played a pivotal role in this act of generosity by nominating EDU-FUN for support. Thobeka's profound connection to early childhood development drove her decision. She passionately shared, "Early childhood development is a topic very close to my heart. I had an opportunity to attend training at Read for Africa and got to learn about the Phono-Graphix reading method, which I found provided my children with a great start to learning. I would like to see Michelin employees get involved in Buddy Reading programmes on literacy days, donate books, or help within the communities on days like Mandela Day."

EDU-FUN embarked on its journey with a simple yet profound mission: to address the educational and material needs of the Diepsloot community, particularly focusing on English literacy for Grade 3 learners at Diepsloot Combined School. The initial motivation was clear – to enhance learners' literacy levels before they entered Grade 4, as South African township schools switch to English as the primary language of instruction from Grade 4 onwards. This transition presented a significant challenge for children for whom English was a second or third language.

“EDU-FUN realised that a child who couldn't read or write would face not only difficulties in English classes but would also fall behind in subjects like maths, science, and history,” said Jenny Taylor, Chairperson at EDU-FUN. “We recognised that a child's ability to learn is intricately tied to their literacy skills, from reading textbooks to understanding exam questions.”

Holistically addressing barriers to education

Over the years, EDU-FUN's mission evolved, extending beyond literacy. They recognised that the community faced multiple socio-economic challenges that hindered education. This realisation inspired them to adopt a holistic approach, addressing barriers to education such as food insecurity, lack of school uniforms, basic health issues, and even teen pregnancy.

EDU-FUN's key initiatives are integral to their mission of community empowerment. At the heart of their efforts lies a robust literacy programme, where they employ the Phono-Graphix method to instil English literacy skills in Grade 2 and 3 learners. More than just reading, this programme equips children with a foundational skill that unlocks opportunities for a brighter future. In addition to literacy, EDU-FUN operates a Further Education programme, guiding and financially assisting university-bound students, breaking the cycle of poverty through education.

They also run a Health Group, providing essential health screenings for children and facilitating professional health appointments to address potential barriers to learning. In addition, their Uniform Project ensures that students who cannot afford school uniforms receive them, enabling them to attend school with dignity and confidence. Lastly, EDU-FUN's Baby Club supports teen mothers, ensuring they remain in school and complete their matriculation, setting a path toward a better future for both mother and child.

A transformative path

The NPO has encountered significant hurdles throughout its journey, including the formidable challenges posed by large class sizes, resource constraints, and the imperative for more personalised attention. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the critical importance of adaptability and innovation for EDU-FUN. It became evident that relying solely on volunteers, who often grappled with their own economic hardships, was not sustainable.

In response, EDU-FUN embarked on a transformative path by engaging unemployed youth on a daily basis to contribute to their initiatives. These youth not only offer crucial assistance but also acquire valuable skills, earn stipends to support their families, and lay the groundwork for future employment and educational pursuits.

One of EDU-FUN's proudest achievements is their response to the COVID-19 crisis, which has become their winning formula. They've seen nearly 400 children learn to read in 2022, and 11 tutors have earned Phono-Graphix certification. The Grade 3 learners, who faced disruptions in their early education due to the pandemic, achieved the best year-end results to date.

EDU-FUN is immensely grateful for Michelin's support and financial contribution. This acknowledgement and injection of funds will empower youth, contribute to their projects, and enable more children to acquire the invaluable skill of literacy. For each empowered youth, they unlock the potential for at least 30 additional children to learn to read in less than a year. They're excited to continue their journey, breaking barriers and creating brighter futures.

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