5 December 2015 marked the the second anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s passing. To honour the icon’s lifelong dedication to education, educational publisher Oxford University Press Southern Africa and shareholder partner The Mandela Rhodes Foundation took to the water to paddle for reading to celebrate and pay tribute to Madiba’s legacy. Currently in its fifth year of raising funds for literacy, this year’s event saw Oxford take the 2015 title, although the real winner of the day was non-profit organisation, Wordworks, which received more than R75 000 raised through the event.
The event opened with a wreath-laying ceremony and a moment of silence at the foot of Madiba’s statue at Nobel Square, which concluded with 2014 Mandela Rhodes Scholar Jolyn Philips singing the South African national anthem.
Spectators made their way in numbers to the water in support of literacy and to cheer on their favourite teams, while being entertained throughout the morning by 2015 Mandela Rhodes Scholar Kgotsi Chikane.
The day’s festivities included of a number of fun races between Oxford University Press Southern Africa and The Mandela Rhodes Foundation, a Standard Bank race, and an energetic race between up-and-coming Western Cape youth clubs JinHai and Dragon Warriors. A highlight of the event saw Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schafer and City of Cape Town Chief Whip Alderman Anthea Serritslev compete in the charity race.
Steve Cilliers, Managing Director of Oxford University Press Southern Africa, commented, “This annual charity event is a highlight for the business. Every day we work to improve education in South Africa, but it is great to demonstrate this commitment by publically supporting a worthwhile cause such as Wordworks.”
All proceeds went to Wordworks, a non-profit organisation working to support early language and literacy learning among children from historically disadvantaged communities in South Africa. According to Wordworks Director Shelley O’Carroll, the organisation has to date been able to reach over 12 600 young learners across South Africa through its Ready, steady … read and write programme, and has empowered more than 3 500 parents to help support their children’s learning at home through the Home-School Partnership Programme. In 2016, in partnership with the Western Cape Education Department, 3000 Grade R teachers in the Western Cape will participate in training and receive Wordworks resources to strengthen their teaching of language and early literacy. The money raised through Paddle to Read will be used to assist schools and organisations to set up Wordworks programmes and strengthen young children’s language and early literacy.
For more information about Wordworks please visit https://wordworks.org.za.