Dear Supporters of Flying Cows to the Rescue,
I write to you from a very cold Johannesburg that is still in the grip of the deadly third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and left reeling from the devastating violence and destruction that swept KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng earlier this month.
Despite these challenges I’m so pleased to share that, thanks to your generous contributions, we started with the support of the first group of Maths & Physical Science teachers in Greater Taung in North West Province so their learners stand a better chance in the December exams. Young teacher Bathandwa Ngcepe, who you can see in the video on the website, is our support on the ground and assists the Maths & Physical Science subject advisors to sign up teachers so we can load them on the platform and invite them to the online kick-off session. Our Flying Cows Mafusi Mpelane, Siyabonga Mthethwa and Thami Hemeni are excited to get this Rescue Mission going!
Witnessing the turbulence of the past weeks and how people stood up to protect what they value confirmed my belief in the importance of the work of Flying Cows of Jozi in valuing people and their future and addressing inequality by creating access to 21st century knowledge and skills.
In Johannesburg, or Jozi as the city is lovingly nicknamed by its residents, the unrest started east of the city centre and from there riots and looting spread to Soweto, Alexandra and other townships. Despite the fact that I live around the corner from Luthuli House, the ANC headquarters which is often the destination of demonstrations, it remained quiet in my neighbourhood west of the city centre. Shops and restaurants closed and life came to a stand-still for a couple of days with most of us frozen in shock, trying to comprehend what was happening. When my neighbourhood tentatively re-opened we were still on edge; shop owners stayed close to their shutters, ready to pull them down at the slightest hint of disturbance. I also found myself looking out of the windows more often, making sure that rumble of the garbage truck and the yelling of its boisterous crew were really just that and not something more sinister.
Who or what ignited the violent unrest will become clearer over the next weeks and months, but what doused it was an impressive wave of civil resistance: after the initial shock communities stood up for what they valued and protected their property, shops and jobs against the looting. People across various divides came together to clean up streets and malls, repair the extensive damage that was done and organise food where it was needed most. I feel encouraged by the overwhelming community spirit and action that soon overtook the negativity and destruction. It is exactly this spirit and drive that we need to sustain to tackle the root causes of the enormous inequality, poverty and unemployment in this country, because as long as these remain in place this kind of unrest will keep finding fertile ground to flare up.
For years the focus on bridging the Digital Divide in education has been on installing computer centres, delivering devices and creating digital content, in other words on the technology of the e-education solution and not enough on the human beings who play such a pivotal role in making it work. Flying Cows of Jozi shifts that focus and puts human beings at the centre: we provide teachers with the support and time they need to feel confident and comfortable adopting a 21st century classroom practice. To offer this guidance we employ recently graduated teachers who already have these skills and whom we pay a fair salary so they experience how much their scarce skills are valued.
To attract more people and organisations to contribute to our campaign and join our Movement, we’ve launched the € 25 = 1 additional teacher added to our platform + 150 learners supported (see attached). This amount is based on creating support groups of 10 teachers each who will be supported online and via WhatsApp for a period of three months, the minimum time frame it takes for people to change the way they work or behave.
Please help me to share this campaign message far and wide! And when you have suggestions how to gain more attention for our campaign and Movement, please let me know.
Thank you again for your generous contribution and let’s together send many more Flying Cows to the Rescue!