In 2020, the essence of Mandela Day – take action, inspire change, and make every day a Mandela Day – is more important now than ever before.

One of Nelson Mandela’s dying wishes was to see a South Africa where people of all races live together in peace and harmony. He wanted previously disadvantaged individuals to have access to opportunities and services that the old apartheid regime prohibited them from having. Unfortunately, the COVID19 pandemic has affected people who live in impoverished areas the most. Before COVID19, The Youth Unemployment Rate in South Africa averaged 53.06 per cent from 2013 until 2020, reaching an all-time high of 59 per cent in the first quarter of 2020. The pandemic made things exponentially worse and now more than ever, the spirit of Mandela Day should be prevalent and hopefully have an impact that lasts long beyond the date itself.

The Mandela Day focus areas and goals for the years 2019-2029 include Education and Literacy, Food and Nutrition, Shelter, Sanitation and Active Citizenship. – all of which have been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of all these goals, everyone must dedicate themselves and commit themselves to at least one goal. This is feasible because these goals are cost-effective and can be executed in any community around the country.

We cannot deny the fact that Mandela Day will be different this year because of the Lockdown but we can still make a difference and touch someone’s life. It is crucial for us to remember that what might be insignificant to you might be significant to someone else. We need to let go of our privileges for a moment and try to adopt some of Tata Madiba’s traits like compassion and Kindness. Once we get into that Ubuntu spirit, the South Africa that Nelson Mandela dreamed of will be realized in our lifetime.

As EMZ, we are most passionate about the impact on the first goal related to quality education to all children. Goal 1 talks about the Provision of quality education to all children. In terms of Matric results, children in private schools get more distinctions in STEM subjects than children in public schools due to insufficient resources and support. Furthermore, the results of inequality and the apartheid system are still prevalent. 80% of children in the rural parts of provinces like Eastern Cape and Limpopo cannot read for meaning by the age of 9 nor do basic maths. has worsened the situation with the introduction of Online learning. Many children in rural areas were already living below the poverty line before COVID19 hence they cannot afford to buy electronic devices, nor do they have enough network coverage to access online learning platforms. This leads to further marginalization of poor children’s access to basic education which in effect hampers their future. This also causes regression and undermines all the policies aimed toward affirmative action in the education space that the government introduced post-1994.

Nelson Mandela once said, Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world. At EMZ we subscribe to this ideology and believe that Education can open doors to success and should be used as a tool to empower children. For many years EMZ has been investing in schools and driving programs for learners and teachers in South Africa and beyond into the rest of Africa – this has continued despite the COVID19 pandemic. We believe that it is important for businesses to support schools in their communities because that is part of preparing the next generation and ensuring that our future leaders have access to the crucial tools needed to lead a better tomorrow.

There are many things that corporations can do despite the pandemic’s impact, such as giving the schools the very same chairs, desks and stationery that are currently sitting unused in the offices we all used to occupy. Some corporates might even have enough facilities for people to do online learning on their premises, leveraging the extensive and unused network coverages that exist in our offices. This is merely a start and there are many more ideas that could work – the COVID19 pandemic should not be used as an excuse. Individuals and organizations need to push themselves to have an impact that can last beyond the 67 minutes initiative for Mandela on 18 July 2020 – our children need it! Let us play our part in securing the future while being inspired by Nelson Mandela and leaving our own special legacy- it all starts with you!

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