The recent Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), which surveyed over 320 000 respondents, concluded that South Africa’s reading score has remained unimproved since 2011 and was ranked last out of 50 countries globally.
Mia Andrew (12) and Zara-Leigh Oliphant (12), from Rondebosch, Cape Town, troubled by these statistics were inspired to focus on improving literacy as part of their Social Entrepreneurial Project at Micklefield Primary School.
The recent Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), which surveyed over 320 000 respondents, concluded that South Africa’s reading score has remained unimproved since 2011 and was ranked last out of 50 countries globally.“Part of Micklefield’s ethos is to develop a sense of giving back from a young age. With the Social Entrepreneurship Project our students are tasked with establishing a business to raise funds and create awareness around their selected cause. With this our Grade 6 students learn valuable lessons on persistence and offering support to others less fortunate than themselves. These are life skills which engender empathy within the larger community and develop their potential as valuable citizens of the future.” – says teacher, Keshma Patel.
Through Mia’s mum, Sue Andrew’s involvement with GROW with Educare Centres, a micro franchise focused on empowering women and enhancing the quality of early childhood education in the low-income areas, avid readers Mia and Zara found a perfect fit.
“When Mia and I got involved with GROW, we were excited to lend a hand because we are both passionate about education and helping children from disadvantaged areas.” – says Zara
Mia adds, “We should all have an equal opportunity to education and this is what GROW stands for. As a young girl, it is important to read and do well in school so we can follow our dreams.”
To raise awareness for their cause, Mia and Zara created a campaign on donations based crowdfunding platform, BackaBuddy and pledged to take on the “Muddy Princess” obstacle course in Stellenbosch as an opportunity to fundraise.
Wearing pink Tutus and matching Tiaras, the pair completed the 5km course fearlessly and raised an impressive R17 670.19 with contributions from 41 donors to purchase 500 books to empower other young minds through the power of reading.
With their charitable efforts, Mia and Zara hope to inspire other young girls, with the notion that they can truly do anything they put their mind to, reinforcing our faith in ‘Generation Z’ as the progressive generation said to have a positive impact on our planet.
According to the dynamic duo, regardless of gender identity, with the right amount of effort, we are all capable of anything we set our minds to.
“Even if a boy is stronger than a girl, it doesn’t mean that he is stronger than her mentally”, says Mia
“Woman have an important role to play in society, your gender should not determine your ability” adds Zara.
As a business mentor, teaching entrepreneurial skills to women in the townships, Mia’s mum, Sue, has seen first hand South Africa’s yearning for strong women.
“It is vital that we teach our girls to be self-reliant and that through education and skills development anything is possible” – says Sue.
Through the years the girls have excelled in various sporting activities, and have shown promise in Tennis in particular, both representing Western Province for the last 3 years and have also maintained commendable academic results.
Asked about their future plans, Mia hopes to dominate the technology field or perhaps venture to outer space working for NASA and Zara shows keen interest in zoology and marine biology. But for now they are focused on their schooling and hope to continue the book drive for GROW.
With their crowdfunding campaign still accepting donations, Mia and Zara hope to raise an additional R8000 to contribute a total of 750 books to GROW.
“As a family we embraced this project with open arms. Reading feeds the soul and will gives a young mind a new perspective on life whilst providing a great foundation for later learning and sharpening the imagination. We hope the public will continue their support for the BackaBuddy campaign” – says Zara’s mum, Yvette Oliphant
Donate to Mia and Zara’s campaign here
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