The biggest challenge most pupils face in Botswana’s rural primary schools is class desertion and failure to complete one’s studies. This is usually due to lack of transportation where pupils are forced to travel long distances to attain education. This obstacle has however propelled a young Kopo Oromeng to come up with a project aimed at possibly transforming rural education. The project is dubbed Thuto Bikes.
Through Thuto Bikes, Oromeng aims to make basic primary education accessible to rural Batswana pupils by donating bicycles to underprivileged pupils.
“Many students in rural areas commute to school either through walking or hitch-hiking. By providing bicycles to students we are trying to change the way pupils commute to school as well as try to initiate a dialogue between teachers and parents around primary school education improvements,” said Oromeng.
Oromeng said the idea was born in her conversations with her father who is a deputy school head at Gamajaalela Primary School a few kilometres away from Kanye.
“From our conversations, I realised how much a role the environment plays in who gets to be successful or who gets to make it into middle class Botswana and who is left out,” said Oromeng
Oromeng further lamented that after these conversations she decided to apply for an entrepreneurship grant through Oberlin College in the United States of America (USA) where she is currently studying.
She said together with her two friends they managed to source funds to get the first few bicycles which were donated to Gamajaalela Primary School recently.
“A total of six bicycles and three vouchers were donated to pupils from low income families,” said Oromeng.
She said during the esteemed donation, all Gamajaalela Primary School pupils were also given stationary.
Prior to her going to the US where she is studying Economics and Geology, Oromeng studied at Johannesburg’s African Leadership Academy where she graduated with a Diploma in African Studies and Entrepreneurial Leadership.
“I have also been fortunate to have been an Allan Gray Orbis Scholar which I think was the turning point for me. The scholars’ programme made me realise a lot of things about myself. The Allan Gray Orbis gave me a voice and strength I didn’t know I had,” said Oromeng
“Kopo was raised by Setswana parents and was taught to appreciate the value of education, from a young age. She has always throughout her schooling managed to rise above her peers due to her inquisitiveness,” said Kopo’s father, Kenalesego Oromeng.
Gamajaalela Primary School headmaster, Kgomotso Morule said the bicycles have been helpful since pupils now arrive early in school as opposed to the past.
“Our students used to walk about 10km from home to school but ever since the bicycles arrived our students have even showed a positive attitude towards school,” said Morule.
One of Oromeng’s team members, Thabo Keisang recently became a fellow for an internationally acclaimed youth-led social movement under the United Nations (UNDP) for N-Peace Award in 2014.
Article by Mpho Matshediso
credit – botswanaunplugged.com