Following their gruelling 1 200km cycling challenge all the way from Shakawe that saw them donating books to at least seven primary schools along the way, 10 Tshwaragano Literacy Challenge (TLC) team members were expected to arrive in the city yesterday (Saturday,10th).
Speaking to Lifestyle from Takatokwane on Thursday, Tshwaragano’s Public Relations Officer Tigele Mokobi said despite challenges they had managed to stick to their schedule. TLC had just donated 400 books to Dutlwe Primary School in the Kgalagadi region. “Despite the challenges it has been an exciting journey,” he said.
He attributed some of the challenges they faced to varying fitness levels among team members. Treasurer Moraki Mokgosana echoed Mokobi’s sentiments about the challenges saying they had had to work together as a team to beat the strong wind and scorching temperatures along the way.
“Teachers and students at the schools we visited said we were crazy to cycle such a long distance just to donate the books,” he said. Mokgosana said while the books would go a long way in improving pupil’s performances they realised support from parents was just as crucial.
“Dutlwe’s impressive performance in the last Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) has been attributed to a healthy parent-teacher relationship.” He said lack of motivation for teachers at Kuke Primary School was also a concern. This, he said, was caused by among other lack of support and adequate resources from the government.
Mokgosana hailed the support they had been receiving from companies and individuals in Gaborone. Because of the overwhelming support, Mokgosana said, the Trust would continue to distribute books even after the cycling challenge.
A World Bank report on making textbooks available to every child in sub-Saharan Africa says that these provide significant impact at a relatively modest cost. The report indicates that apart from qualified and committed teachers, provision and use of textbooks in schools play a major role in addressing the challenge of quality education.
“Textbooks play a key role in enhancing the quality of learning, especially in the context of countries characterised by large-size classes, poorly motivated and inadequately trained teachers.” It also says there are high rates of illiteracy among parents and few reading materials at home for the students to bank on. The report says despite extensive investments by governments, the World Bank and other development partners, the majority of students in primary and secondary schools especially in rural areas still lack the benefit of access to textbooks.”
“The Tshwaragano Literacy Challenge is an exciting fitness and endurance expedition that seeks to raise money and book donations for rural schools along the Shakawe-Gaborone route,” said Trust chairperson Mahube Mpugwa.
He said Trust members identified schools along the route where they also spent time interacting with students and teachers to encourage a culture of reading and keeping physically fit.
Mpugwa said the timing could not have been better because TLC comes in the same year that Botswana celebrates 50 years of independence from British colonial rule. He said the challenge also coincides with another milestone, the culmination of the country’s national Vision 2016 which defined and managed the country’s path towards ‘Prosperity for All’ by 2016.
Trust member Tawana Gaolathe said beyond promoting physical fitness and literacy, the endurance challenge was also an adventure that promoted eco-tourism as they had cycled through some of the most beautiful parts of Botswana. Some of the beneficiaries included primary schools in Shakawe, Sepopa, Nokaneng, Sehitwa, Kuke, D’Kar and Ghanzi.
TLC is an initiative of Tshwaragano Adventure Trust, a health and fitness focused non-profit charitable organisation with philanthropic goals aimed at social well-being, education and other activities serving public interest and common good. The Trust raises Funds for various charitable causes through activities that demand rigorous fitness and encourage good health through exercising.