A group of volunteers in Soshanguve have started an initiative called #ThusaNgwanaGeno (help your brethren), in an effort to cover books for pupils. The 25 volunteers got together at Mathaga Primary School in the township ahead of schools reopening in two weeks’ time and covered 400 textbooks.
Dr John Molepo, who is the brains behind the initiative said: “Normally, we would do it when learners are back at school so that we can also teach them how to cover their books, but because of Covid-19 we had to readjust.”
Molepo who is also an activist and a senior lecturer at the University of Mpumalanga said the idea behind the initiative was to create uniformity in schools by making sure there was no distinction between learners from rich and poor families and reduce the financial burden on parents,” he said.
Through the #ThusaNgwanaGeno initiative, some students at institutions of higher learning were previously assisted with obtaining their drivers’ licenses.”We also assisted students in universities with tuition fees, outstanding fees and registration fees,” Molepo said. Furthermore, five schools in four provinces, which include the North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng are set to benefit from this textbook-covering initiative.
Molepo also went to Mathaga Primary school and was the youngest to have a PhD in public affairs conferred on him at the Tshwane University of Technology in 2019. In the same year, President Cyril Ramaphosa recognised Molepo’s activism, honouring the young academic with a presidential award in the category of compassion for the “immense value of his contribution to the community”.
“I am one person who believes in collectivism, that whatever that you do you need to plough back to your community, more especially where you grew up,” he said. His former teacher, Sally Mothupi, said: “I am happy that our former learner John Molepo didn’t forget where he came from. I taught him here at Mathaga primary school”.
She expressed gratitude to Molepo for helping learners who can’t afford to buy book covers.”We have challenges of learners who come to school with their books not covered. I am very proud of him and he is a doctor today. It means we laid a proper foundation. May the good God bless him,” she said.
One of the volunteers, Duduzile Masombuka, said the initiative was bred from raising funds for university students at road intersections, where motorists donate as little as R5.”There is a saying that ’when you look good you feel good and when you feel good, you do good’. We believe that if a child has a school book that is nicely covered that is a motivation that says ‘here is something that is good before you, take care of it and preserve it and then run with it’,” concluded Masombuka.