14 December, 2016
MTO Group Support songo.info Education Initiatives
Christoph Sauser in action during the MTO Champions
Race. Photo by Ewald Sadie.
The MTO Group
has become synonymous to mountain bikers with fantastic trails; from
Jonkershoek to Tsitsikamma many of the Western Cape's most beloved mountain
bike routes weave their way through MTO plantations. For the Kayamandi based
charity, songo.info, though the MTO Group provides far more than a mountain
biker's playground - by supporting the charity's education initiatives the MTO
Group is providing possibilities for young people beyond the bike.
Founded in 2008
by Songo Fipaza and Swiss mountain biking legend Christoph Sauser, the aim of
songo.info was initially to provide a safe space for the children of Kayamandi
to play and introduce them to BMX riding and mountain biking. It soon became
apparent though that there was so much more which needed to be done to improve
the lives of the children in the programme. In 2014 the songo.info clubhouse
was opened and afterschool homework classes were implemented. Under the
guidance of songo.info trustee and retired educator Eunice Myataza the children
are assisted with their homework for an hour, Mondays to Thursdays, before they
are allowed to head outside and ride the BMXs or mountain bikes.
sessions alone though are not enough to address the shortfalls in the education
of the youth of Kaymandi and this is where the generous support of the MTO
Group has been making a significant impact since March 2016.
support songo.info was able to bring Liz Ward on board to head up the education
programme and implement, with the support of the rest of the team, a number of
exciting initiatives. One of the most promising of these being the Reading Eggs
programme, this interactive, online, programme teaches children to read in an
engaging and entertaining manner. It's also essential to the children in the
programme as they are not native English speakers. With much of their teaching
and learning conducted in English, increasing their English comprehension
skills is an important step in improving their academic results.
assistance of the MTO Group songo.info has been able to implement other
initiatives too, including fortnightly and holiday extra mathematics sessions; a
tertiary education programme; a life-skills development programme; holiday
activity plans; and educational outings which help foster a love of learning.
Plans are also being put in place to create a tertiary scholars intern
programme which will see students from Stellenbosch University volunteer as
tutors to children in the songo.info programme.
As MTO Group CEO
Lawrence Polkinghorne explains: "songo.info's vision is aligned with MTO's
social performance programs. We believe that it is critical to identify, nurture
and develop talent from a young age. The songo.info programme offers kids the
opportunity to learn discipline, commitment, pride and participation which we
believe will ultimately culminate in well-rounded individuals who will lead by
example in their communities. It is a privilege to be associated with songo.info
and we look forward to celebrating the positive impact the programme has on all
associated with it".
songo.info's ultimate aim to provide a holistic support structure for the
children within the programme, and in so doing help them reach their full
potential as individuals. It is a tragic reality of life in South Africa that
so many children are born into a life of poverty; it is only through programmes
which provide children with support structures beyond simply sport or education
that the individual children can be empowered to break the cycle of poverty.
With the help of the MTO Group songo.info hopes to do just that for the youth
Putting the reading egg platform to good use.
Etienne van Rensburg
Liz Ward teaching at the songo.info club house.
by Etienne van Rensburg | songo.info.
Project manager, Sipho Madolo (in blue) racing some of
the young boys in the
programme on the songo.info BMX track. Photo by Seamus Allardice.
Source: MTO Group