Cummins Extends Helping Hand to Students in Africa
WHEN ABEY MOLEKO ENTERS THE AFRIKA TIKKUN COMMUNITY CENTRE IN SOUTH AFRICA, CHILDREN EXCITEDLY SLAP HANDS WITH HIM, HIGH-FIVE STYLE.
Moleko and other Cummins employees are engaging those students now to help them realize that same joy when they enter their first jobs.
Recognizing the link between educational attainment and economic opportunity, Cummins’ Africa Distribution sites “adopt” underdeveloped schools to provide student mentoring, infrastructure support and career training.
“Most students are raised in abject poverty and can’t even afford to further their studies,” said Moleko, the Community Involvement Team (CIT) Leader at Cummins Longmeadow South Africa. “Cummins employees saw they could close that gap by empowering students with basic skills to prepare them for the working world.”
Started in 2014 with five schools, employees adopted 11 more in 2015 and plan to reach a total of 20 in the years ahead. The positioning and diverse makeup of Cummins’ Distribution Business – with company-owned entities in 10 African countries – enable employees to tailor their services to the various needs of Africa’s schools and students.
Last year at the Afrika Tikkun Community Centre, for example, Moleko and his colleagues mentored students who were at risk of not graduating from the Kwabhekilanga and Reiger Park secondary schools. Employees provided the 92 teens career-readiness training and skills to secure entry-level jobs.
Also in South Africa, Cummins employees managed the building and stocking of libraries at Clairwood High School and Edenridge Primary School, serving 1,255 and 1,500 students, respectively.
In Ghana’s Laterbiokorshie schools, employees led a similar library project while also bringing water to the schools. The absence of hygienic resources, including separate washrooms for girls, is a major factor in females’ abilities to attend school.
“Education is very important as it helps promote gender equality,” said Mariam Salifu, a teacher at Laterbiokorshie. “It is relieving to know that being educated has encouraged other girls to go against all odds and seek knowledge. In the end, education leads to growth of the family, society and country as a whole.”
For both female and male students, eliminating hunger also can improve their educational opportunities. At the Manzini Primary School, the lack of food accessibility prompted employees to create a bio-gas system to fuel a school-feeding program for impoverished students – the project was a regional winner in Cummins’
2015 Environmental Challenge. The school’s resulting savings from the reduced gas consumption will equal about $1,900 a year.
And at Kathu High School, Cummins’ South Africa employees developed a technical department and facilitated the incorporation of the government’s 2016 curriculum. With that infrastructure in place, employees will lead a “training technician program” to prepare students for mechanical, mining and other engineering careers in local industries.
In each of their adopted schools, Cummins employees have set a five-year goal to reach a 90 percent pass rate for students, 100 percent access to water and 100 percent retention among females.
“Cummins employees are privileged to work in needy communities to improve people’s lives,” Moleko said. “By changing the life of one person you have impacted positively the next generation, hence breaking the circle of poverty.”
It’s a high bar, but it’s one Abey Moleko is encouraging students to reach with every high-five he gives.