This Is What Happens When Corporations Commit to the Global Goals
The Vodacom Foundation has invested more than R1,2 billion towards quality education and more.
According to the Poverty Trends report released by Statistics South Africa in 2017, poverty is on the rise in the country. Women, children, and the youth are disproportionately affected by poverty, which compromises their quality of life by limiting or preventing access to quality education and economic opportunities. This makes it all the more important — and urgent — for corporations to work with the most vulnerable communities to achieve the Global Goals.
Take Action: Empower South African kids with digital literacy
Founded 19 years ago, the Vodacom Foundation funds programmes that support education, youth economic participation, and gender empowerment. Over the last 12 months, Vodacom spent close to R100 million and made a difference to over 800,000 beneficiaries.
In line with the goal to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”, the Vodacom Foundation funds programmes that support the targets set by Goal 4. These include increasing the supply of qualified teachers, the number of people with relevant skills for financial success, and providing education that can support sustainable development.
The foundation funds 92 teacher centres across the country that serve as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) hubs. These guarantee on-going training for teachers, learners, unemployed youth, and community members. More than 200,000 teachers and 3,000 schools now use ICT in classrooms, while 12 schools out of the 3,000 are also “schools of excellence” that use end-to-end technology to enable a learning culture that exposes students to innovative and adaptive 21st century skills
The most impactful solutions are those that are integrated. Other than taking ICT to classrooms, the foundation uses mobile tech to reach more people that physical locations allow. The e-School portal, which has 500,000 learners in grades 0 to 12, turns smartphones, tablets, and desktops into classrooms through video lessons, revision, and tests.
When a country’s economic growth is low, unemployment figures rise. Unemployment in South Africa hits young people the hardest. Goal 10 aims to correct imbalances created by inequality through programmes that promote economic participation.
The Vodacom Foundation’s Youth Academy affords young people who passed grade 12 Mathematics, Science, and English with accredited digital training and skills. The Academy, which is based in 21 teacher centres, offers free ICT skills training to out-of-school unemployed youth.
The Foundation awards 50 bursaries annually to top-achieving students from disadvantaged communities to study mainly in the ICT and engineering sectors. Other than providing social and emotional support to the beneficiaries, they are also considered for the Vodacom Discover Graduate Programme.
Decent Work and Economic Growth
Target 8.6 of Goal 8 aims to substantially reduce the proportion of young people who are not in employment, education, or training by 2020. Vodacom launched a partnership with the Innovator Trust, a small business development agency towards small, medium and micro enterprise development. The Innovator Trust provided SMME training to 10 graduates from the Youth Academy.
The company also created the Vodacom Youth Empowerment Programme to complement the Change the World programme. Established in 2011, Change the World annually selects around 20 volunteers to work for a nonprofit organisation of their choice in South Africa for a year, at no cost to the volunteer or the host organisation. To date, Vodacom has invested more than R35 million on project funds, salaries, and grants to the NPOs.
Gender equality, as Goal 5 states, “is not just a human rights issue. Nations benefit when girls and women have political, economic and social equality.” Promoting equal rights also means that women and children are free from violence and discrimination. Vodacom’s Gender-Based Violence Command Centre operates nationally through a 24/7 call centre that is staffed by qualified social workers, to offer telephonic support and counselling.
The centre operates an emergency line number on 0800 428 428. It is also supported by the Call-Me-Back facility through *120*7867#. A Skype line called ‘Helpme GBV’ and an SMS-based line for persons with disabilities (SMS ‘help’ to 31531) also exists. The centre works with the South African Police Service to ensure that calls receive priority and can be escalated to a police station nearest to the victim where necessary.
In response to the devastating fires and storms that occurred in the Southern and Western Cape in June 2017, Vodacom set up a R20 million disaster recovery fund to provide support and aid for those most affected when disasters arise. Over 1,200 SIM cards loaded with airtime were distributed to residents and disaster relief personnel in Knysna to improve communication and emergency response. Vodacom has offered support to 10 schools in the Western Cape, one teacher centre, and a school in KwaZulu-Natal.