Photo by Qhubeka Founder, Anthony Fitzhenry
By: Staff reporter
During the Qhubeka recent trip to Limpopo, three schools around Giyani were visited; Maphusha High School, Semendhe High School and N’wa-Khada High School.
Lise Olivier, Qhubeka Account Manager said since 2014, a total of 3 589 Qhubeka bicycles have been distributed into 14 schools in and around Giyani in partnership with World Vision South Africa. There are seven trained mechanics in the area who service these bicycles.
“For some, it may be hard to believe that there are still schools in South Africa without proper amenities and toilet paper. None of the schools that we visited had any sport facilities but the condition of the schools was impeccable.
Several kilometres out of town, we drove past the Xihlovo Library. For me, seeing bicycles parked outside the library is testament to the fact that a Qhubeka Bicycle helps school children to access education more easily – whether that means getting to and from school, being able to travel to the library, or just having more time to go to the library because their commute time is cut by up to 75% with a bicycle.
Although the bicycles in the area are distributed mainly to school children, often other family members also use the bicycles. Each school has an established Bicycle Supervisory Committee (BSC), which regulates the use of the bicycles.” She said
“Perhaps the coolest thing that we saw during our trip was five boys racing each other home from school through the single tracks. We could only spot them every now and again through the bushes.
It was also fun to see the creative spirit at one school – almost all the bicycles there were decorated and personalised,” Olivier added
Joy Makhubele (14) a Grade 8 pupil said she used to walk an hour to school each way, but now only spends 20 minutes riding her bicycle to school.
“I feel good because we are able to come to school by time. And sometimes many learners did not want to come to school because they have to travel a long distance. So I say thank you,” Makhubele said
“Each school we visited has an active mechanic that takes care of the bicycles. Bicycle mechanics are trained by Qhubeka and are provided with the necessary tools to fix the bicycles.
These mechanics have been able to start their own business servicing bicycles and selling spare parts. Some of the schoolchildren that have graduated from school are still using the mechanics to service their bicycles. One of the mechanics very proudly brought along his bank slip to show us, which shows that he now has a sustainable business and that he is making money”, Olivier added
The school principals feel that the Qhubeka Bicycle programme at their school is a marketing tool and that they are able to attract more and better students. Late-coming and attendance problems have almost completely been eradicated as a result of the bicycles, Oliver concluded.