How a Desk Can Alter a Life
“I went to school where there were no desks. We sat on benches and when the teacher asked us to write, we knelt down on the floor and used the benches we had been sitting at as desks…” Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Her smile is electric, her heart is huge, and her shoe collection is fabulous! She is Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe, and I had the pleasure of meeting her at two recent events, one where I was speaking, and the other where she was speaking.
Hers was a charity reception for The Tutudesk Campaign, where she educated guests about the substantial difference a simple desk can make to a child’s learning. I had no idea that more than 95 million schoolchildren in sub-Saharan Africa don’t have desks! And the ways that the lack of a hard writing surface diminishes literacy are astonishing.
Imagine for a moment how different your education would have been if you’d had no choice but to write or draw in your notebook on the soft earth or the cold floor. You would never have experienced the feeling of ink gliding over crisp paper or colored crayons smoothly bringing shapes to life. Think about the extra effort it would have taken and how it might have impacted the way you expressed yourself.
Tutudesks have been designed to alleviate those challenges. They are small, portable, and solid writing surfaces that children place on their laps for writing and drawing. And they make a big difference. According to the website, when these portable desks are used in schools 76% of learners are more motivated, homework delivery improves by 65%, and 80% of teachers say handwriting is easier to read. Plus, the desks are low-cost, recyclable, and imprinted with educational material.
The campaign has a big goal: to deliver 20 million Tutudesks to 20 million children by 2020. Wow!
Like her father, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Thandeka is a kind and joyous person. Her bright spirit radiates through her colorful wardrobe, and she lights up every room she enters. She is truly an inspiration, and if anyone can lead the challenge of making that 2020 goal a reality, it is her.