General Motors South Africa (GMSA), in association with The Lapdesk Company, handed out 475 Lapdesks, valued at around R50,000 to disadvantaged children from the Mzomtsha Primary School, in Kwazakhele, Port Elizabeth today.
The handover means that every child at the school, from grade R through to grade seven, will now have their own Lapdesk - an ergonomically designed writing surface made from durable, child proof materials that is also extremely lightweight - which they can use at school and take home with them.
Speaking at the handover school principal, Mntuwenkosi Mashologu, said the school, which was established in 1958 and currently had 465 learners and 16 teachers, battled with limited resources. "Most of our buildings are dilapidated and subject to vandalism. We have no paving, no administration offices, many classrooms have no electricity and conditions are generally a challenge for teaching the children," he said.
Mashologu said at least half the learners at the school did not have a proper desk to sit at. "We are all very happy to have received these Lapdesks, as it will make a huge difference in the ability of learners to do their schoolwork," he said.
GMSA's Public Relations Officer, Michelle Wilson, said each school underwent a stringent selection process before being identified as a beneficiary. "Education is one of the most important elements in a child's upbringing and sometimes circumstances outside of the children's control prevent them from fulfilling their dreams. It was nice to see what a difference GMSA and Isuzu have been able to make in these children's lives through this donation," said Wilson.
Dimba Mjalo, the Lapdesk Company's co-ordinator for the Eastern Cape, demonstrated to the learners how to sit with the desk on their laps to ensure they maintain a good posture, and also pointed out to them that the Isuzu Lapdesk has a timetable, a multiplication table and an alphabet on it, which they can use when they study.
Wilson added that each Lapdesk also had a space where the child could write their name on and what they aspired to become one day. "Many children indicated that they want to become doctors and lawyers, but a few also mentioned that they want to work at General Motors so that they can drive an Isuzu bakkie," said Wilson.
Port Elizabeth District circuit manager for the Department of Education, Pamela Mbusi, who had been assigned to Mzomtsha Primary School for the past year, praised General Motors and The Lapdesk Company for their contribution. "I don't have words to express what this donation means to the school, the parents and the department of education, GMSA has made an invaluable investment in these children's futures," she said.
"While we recognise education is a constitutional right and that it is the responsibility of government to provide the resources, it is impossible to meet the unlimited needs without the assistance of companies such as General Motors," she said.
Lapdesk founder, Shane Immelman, said his company, which has been manufacturing Lapdesks since 2004, had already distributed in excess of 730,000 Lapdesks in South Africa, but said this was just the tip of the iceberg. "Nationally there are between 3.7 and 4 million learners who do not have access to desks. Schools in the Eastern Cape alone have a shortfall of around 780,000 desks," he said.
GMSA has already distributed more than 2 000 Lapdesks across the country.