By Claudine Moore
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called education the “single best investment nations can make to build prosperous, healthy and equitable societies” and meeting this goal is crucial if sub-Saharan Africa is to avoid losing a generation of children to sub standard educational resources.
It is considering this that when I was invited to the global launch event of the Tutudesk, despite it being a held during the United Nations General Assembly which is a hectic week of meetings and events, I simply had to go.
Hosted by the Financial Times and held at the Mandarin Oriental in New York City, I joined an international audience of leading influencers in global education, executives from Fortune 100 companies, government organizations, activists and key figures from the international development community
The Campaign is simple but genius. The idea is to provide portable school desks, Tutudesks, to children across sub-Saharan Africa, where over 95 million school children do not have a classroom desk, but instead use the floor or their chairs. This shortage affects the development of literacy and overall academic performance. To date, 1.3m Tutudesks have been distributed to 24 African countries with plans to provide 20m desks to 20 million children across sub-Saharan Africa by 2020.
It was moving to hear Archbishop Desmond Tutu talk so passionately about the Tutudesk. He explained to the audience why he had to get involved when he was approached by Tutudesk founder Shane Immelman, and then instructed each of us to look under our chairs.
Much to the delight of the audience, under each chair was our very own Tutudesk. Lightweight, portable but sturdy, and made of environmentally friendly and recyclable materials, the desks are functional and practical. Our very own Tutudesks were customized for the global launch, and had infographics about the campaign written across the desk. We were all amazed to actually touch and feel the desks and see for ourselves how easy it would be for children to use this incredible but practical tool.
At the end of the event, the audience was invited to join Archbishop Tutu on the stage for a group photograph, but the real treat came when I was able to speak directly to the Archbishop himself. I personally thank him for all the work he continues to tirelessly do for others, and we discussed his latest venture with the Tutudesks.
Archbishop DesmondTutu continues to be a beacon of light, and a source of inspiration for us all. At a time when African’s are enthusiastic about creating their own innovations, it was great to witness the official global launch of this simple yet impactful tool.
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