Education is a huge dilemma in rural South Africa: schools are dysfunctional, classrooms are under-resourced, teachers are overwhelmed and the school kids â€“ well they are malnourished or forever walking to school. Millions of children are forced to complete a half marathon to school on an empty stomach. Every day.
More than 70% of South Africa’s children walk to school. Many of these kids walk for more than a hour. Each way. School dropout rates are high and its not hard to understand why.
So, the goodÂ folk at VW South Africa (Das Auto â€“ go on â€“ say it) decided to get involved. Partnering with Qhubeka and World Vision, they provided more than a thousand bikes to a school in the eastern Cape. There are 8 million kids who walk to school, and yes, a thousand bikes wonâ€™t make a splash.
But,Â however skeptical you are about CSR, or corporate social responsibility, what matters is that there are just over 1000 have-nots somewhere now playing cops and robbers on a bicycle. They will learn to ride the hills, balance without hands and become little engineers when they fall (and snap their rides).
They are kids and theyâ€™ll have a ball.
So whatâ€™s the twist, you ask.
No sooner had VW made the announcement of its noble deed (whatâ€™s the point of donating with your right nut, if your left nut doesnâ€™t know, eh?) on Facebook, than the haughty adults came out toÂ play.
Sorry. Say again?
VW immediately replied to his message:
But no time for that. And a couple of other adults jump to VW’s aid as well.
Meanwhile the plaudits for VW continue. And why not? Bicycles are cool. The initiative is smart. The video is neat. Step aside from corporate baloney and its a cool gesture.
And despite the praise, Nstika manages to keep her nerve. Incredible composure.
But still the same nagging question, that tone, kept on coming.
To be fair, it didn’t turn into much of a discussion. Nstika ignored by next set of questions while others continued to fawn over the company’s video (and hope for a prize). But something felt amiss.
The stats say that if you are poor in South Africa, chances are you’re black. Not white. Yes, the poor come in all types of shapes, sizes and shades, but historical reasons tell us that a minority of white South Africans need those bicycles.
After watching an advert about a smart (but overpriced) car company providing bicycles to a community in need,Â why would you throw your toys out the cot for something, you so obviously don’t evenÂ need?
Are we missing something?
Featured image: VW website