CSI in the time of COVID-19

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During lockdown it quickly became apparent that the education of South Africa’s children could become one of the real calamities to be inflicted by the pandemic.

Something had to be done and like many organisations, Liberty was one of the many companies that stepped forward and contributed to the Solidarity Fund at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020.

In doing this the Liberty Group’s Corporate Social Investment (CSI) team had to rapidly repurpose their plans to align with the most pressing needs that confronted South African communities because of pandemic.

“As a company, Liberty believes that its impact on society and its standing as a responsible corporate citizen is defined by its efforts to promote education and financial literacy,” says Nomaxabiso Matjila, Lead Specialist CSI.

Every year Liberty’s CSI program invests over R40 million in initiatives aimed at the development of maths, science, and literacy – especially in previously disadvantaged communities. “We do this to make sure we help build a South African society that is future ready and that we can all imagine and be part of,” she says.

Changing priorities during lockdown

With education being Liberty’s primary focus, Group CSI had to redirect funds while identifying projects that are priority to assisting the education system and focusing on continued learning during the lockdown. 

With this plan 2020 saw Liberty participate in numerous CSI related activities, which ranged from the development of online educational platforms to employee driven digital volunteer initiatives. The key here was online participation through digital outreach.

“Now that technology is here, we felt it is important to change the structural dynamics and get  educators and learners to use their existing devices to enable continuity of learning and appreciate the new blended learning approach during the lockdown,” Matjila says.

Making it happen

Among these activities was Liberty’s partnership with Mindset Learning who in the eye of the storm, magnified their digital learning platforms. This included broader access to the Tenfold Education Mobile App, which provides revision papers and peer to peer learning support. Through this partnership Mindset also increased their learning programmes broadcast on DSTV channels, most notably their grade 10 to 12 math’s and science programmes.

Liberty also worked with the Kutlwanong Centre For Math’s, Science and Technology on the development of a digital platform which aimed to revamp their longstanding face-to-face class orientated tutorial programme. This focused on learners from grade 10 to 12.

The Kutlwanong Centres that Liberty also funds, resumed schooling in June 2020 offering a blended learning approach, virtual and face-to-face teaching. The motivation behind this move was not only curriculum acceleration in light of the school year being disrupted due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but  also a decision to move the programme into a space that integrates ICT into the teaching methodology thus  enabling scalability.

Another partnership was with Primestars through their #SaveTheClassof2020 campaign. The campaign which was launched in September 2020 was aimed at providing online and face-to-face tutorial support to over 5000 matriculants from participating schools. Liberty funded the digital platform which enabled learners to extract past revision papers to help them during the final matric exams.

Internal CSI programmes

“At Liberty, we have a culture of being in it with you. This is another way of saying we are all members of society, and the society we help build is the one we want to live in,” Matjila says.

With this in mind there were internally driven initiatives at Liberty during 2020 which saw employees pledging money, providing emotional support and remote volunteering.

This included a Corona virus campaign through the Liberty employee volunteering portal. Various money donations campaigns were also launched to promote giving during the year. Through these campaigns employees pledged their own money and made several virtual or offsite volunteering connections with NGO’s.

As part of its commitment to International Mandela Day the company did thingsa little differently in 2020. Employeeswhere requested to pledge PPE’s for 87 schools in disadvantaged communities, with emphasis on the Eastern Cape and Limpopo.

There was also a #DriveHope social media campaign in which Liberty pledged to spread hope to the lives of 67 people from all walks of life. A total of 48 nominations were received and Liberty was able to send some hope in the form of assistance their way.

Undoubtedly millions of learners in South Africa were affected by the COVID-19 lockdown in which schools had to close thus making access to education even more difficult. “By supporting online and digital solutions to bring education to learners, we at Liberty believe we were able to fulfill our aim to enable digital access for the most vulnerable.

“Parents and teachers have indicated they would never have been able to get their learners through lockdown in 2020 without these online resources being made available. We reached out to people and people made it happen. When our learners look back, they will remember what we did to get through this,” Matjila says.

Liberty Group Limited is a Licensed Insurer and an Authorised Financial Services Provider (no 2409).

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