08 Mar 2012

Lunch meeting: Literacy in South Africa. Speaker: Nico Kooij

Our speaker today was PP Nico Kooij, who was our former member from 1996 to March 2003.  Throughout his career, he worked for Océ , the international printer manufacturers whose HQ is in The Netherlands. During his time in Hong Kong, he was responsible for establishing and expanding operations in Beijing , Shanghai , Guangzhou and Taipei. In March 2003, he was unexpectedly at very short notice appointed CEO of their UK operations.  Upon retirement in 2007 , he moved back to Cape Town where he went to school and now together with Caroline spends most of their time.

His topic today was “Literacy in South Africa”.  South Africa is a big country, which is twice of France or three times of Germany.  The South Western corner the Western Cape enjoys a Mediterranean climate with wet winters and hot dry summers.  His Club name is The Helderberg Sunrise Rotary Club, founded in June 2006 in Somerset West, Western Cape, South Africa.  South Africa currently has a population of about 50 million people, however 25% of the South Africans live in “Informal Settlements”.  They have 26% unemployment , 4.2 million on 50 million people and 40% youth unemployment.  The key issue they faced is 80% of schools are dysfunctional, 66% of grade 12 students cannot read or write properly, there is 40% teacher absenteeism in townships those made the Vicious circle: Poverty, no skills, unemployment, drugs, violence, aids, no skills and poverty.

They want to change the situation from the Children, one of their Rotarians who have a judo black belt rank teaches the youngsters self-defence and discipline.  They help Tonko Bosman Farm School, which has 80 children enrolled from surrounding farms who have just had a very poor harvest, also they have the Literacy Project to providing books to children. For only HK$120, a six-year-old child will over 3 years benefit from a series of 18 illustrated books in up to 11 South African languages that will make all the difference to become literate and employable.  PP Nico hopes to share the project with other Rotary Clubs and help more children.

We collected HK$1,700 for raffle and fines.  IPP Stephen got the raffle prize as a box of cookies…