Each year, Mandela Day, celebrated on the 18th of July, invites citizens across the globe to walk in Nelson’s Mandela’s shoes by performing a service for those in need.  Traditionally, many people donate 67 minutes of their time to a cause, symbolic of the 67 years Mandela was in service to his country and people.  This year, however, the employees at Woolworths Head Office in Cape Town participated in a different kind of commemoration of Mandela Day.

Thousands of South African school children walk to school without proper school shoes, and this includes the vast majority of the children in the National Education Collaboration Trust’s Fresh Start Schools (NECT’s FSS).  As a supplier of top quality school shoes, Woolworths devised an innovative Mandela Day commemoration that involved store and head office employees in the NECT’S FSS project.

Eleven FSS schools across the country, supporting 1600 learners, were selected as the Mandela Day beneficiaries.

The children were given a paper cut-out footprint which they decorated and wrote their names and shoe sizes on.  The children’s footprints were sent to the Woolworths Head Office where they were displayed for Mandela Day.  In celebration of Mandela Day, Woolies head office employees were invited to choose a child’s footprint and contribute R67 towards the cost of their new pair of school shoes and socks, the balance will be donated by the Woolworths Trust and MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet Thuso Fund.

“One cannot over-estimate the impact that having a uniform and school shoes makes in the life of a child,” says Godwin Khosa, the CEO of NECT, “It might seem like a small thing, but it is not trivial at all.  It actually makes an enormous difference to the way a child thinks and feels about themselves.  The children in these FSS schools walk many kilometers to and from school every day in broken or old, ill-fitting shoes, if they have shoes at all.  It is wonderful to see Woolworths and their employees take action to address this.”

There was much anticipation and excitement at the schools, as they welcomed the Woolworths and NECTpartners during Mandela month who delivered what, for most of the children will be the first pair of brand-new shoes they have ever owned.

Three years ago, Woolworths entered into a partnership with the the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT), an initiative that brings together government, business, labour and civil society to implement the education chapter of the National Development Plan. To date, the Woolworths Trust has donated R6 million to NECT.   The organisation runs a number of programmes reaching a total of 4000 schools.  However the most intensive of these is a project called Fresh Start Schools (FSS), which focuses specifically on helping 400 deeply rural, under-developed schools overcome massive challenges and improve their learning outcomes.

“Since its inception, education has been a key, on-going focus for the Woolworths Trust,” says Zinzi Mgolodela, the Head of Transformation at Woolworths, “Through our partnerships with NECT, MySchoolMyVillage MyPlanet, the EduPlant programme and the Woolworths Making the Difference educational programmes we have been assisting schools in a variety of ways to improve teaching and learning, school environments and school management.”





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EMAIL:            dianepeterson@woolworths.co.za