Every festive season, Woolworths, MySchool, MyVillage and MyPlanet embark on a special drive to raise funds in order to make a meaningful life-long impact on children in need. Over December 2017, for the second year in a row, they raised funds for Shine Literacy. The campaign, through customers swiping their cards over the festive season and the sale of reusable Shine Literacy shopping bags, raised R654 950-00.


A Grade 3 learner reading a book inside the new Shine Resource Centre at the school.


The country’s low levels of literacy came into the spotlight last year when the results of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Studies (PIRLS) global assessment of the reading skills of 9- and 10-year-olds in 50 countries was released.  South Africa ranked lowest of all, and according to the results – 78% of South African Grade 4 children cannot read for meaning.  Internationally, only 4% of children cannot reach this basic educational benchmark.

If you do not learn to read in your first three years of school, you are effectively locked out of all further academic learning; because in Grade4the shift moves from learning to read to reading to learn.  The ability to read for meaning may be taken for granted in some sectors of our society, but the statistics show it is distressingly a minority skill. Reading for meaning is at the core of a dignified life, where you are empowered by information to work and earn according to your potential and to participate as a knowledgeable and active citizen.

“Every year the Woolworths and MySchool fundraising campaign boosts the capacity of the Woolies shopper to make a difference over the festive season,” says Helene Brand, Marketing and CSI Manager at the MySchool fund-raising programme.  “From 1 November to 25 December 2017, every swipe of a customer’s linked Woolies or MySchool card resulted in an additional donation by Woolies and MySchool to Shine Literacy, a registered non-profit organisation (NPO) with a proven track record of delivering on their mandate to boost literacy in South African schools.”

MySchool MyPlanet MyVillage is South Africa’s largest community-based fund-raising programme linked to consumer rewards.  Customers choose their causes, use their cards at till points or online when they shop, and financial contributions are made at no additional cost to them.

Maurita Weissenberg, Executive Director of Shine Literacy thanked Woolies customers and the retailer for the important donation.  “It is phenomenal fundraising,” she said, “More than half of the donation has been allocated towards supporting our 19 social franchises, known as Shine Chapters, across four provinces, and supporting the ongoing work of our six Shine Centres in the Western Cape.”  Shine Literacy engages more than 900 volunteers in its hands-on programme to improve the reading skills of Grade 2’s and 3’s.  The organisation has an award-winning model for scaling up its interventions.  The balance of the Woolies Christmas giving campaign has been allocated towards the costs of resources which includes materials, books and stationery.  Thanks to Woolies shoppers, 30 ‘Boek Hoeks’ will also be established in the classrooms of under-resourced Gauteng primary schools in 2018.

In 2016 Woolies extended the Christmas giving campaign by also collaborating with BookDash, an NPO that brings together teams of volunteer writers, illustrators and designers to produce beautiful, relevant South African children’s books in a 12-hour workshop.  10 engaging books were created and sold in Woolies’ stores over the last festive season based on a ‘buy one, give one’ initiative so that customers could increase their ability to make a difference.  10 000 BookDash books were sold which has resulted in 10 000 more books made available through the Shine Literacy programmes in 2018.  A reusable Shine Literacy shopping bag also boosted donations as every sale of the environmentally-friendly R35 bag included a R10 donation to the organisation.

“Woolworths has been a dedicated supporter of quality education in South Africa for decades,” says Sally Munro, Special Occasions Marketing Manager at Woolworths. “Literacy is fundamental to learning.  We are delighted that our Christmas giving efforts of 2017 can give NPOs such as Shine Literacy and Book Dash a much-needed boost to address the issues and cultivate an empowering culture of reading in our country.”

The reading corners were launched at Lerato Educational Centre in Jackson’s Drift (Johannesburg) in early March, with the funds raised from this campaign.