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David Furlonger

 

31/07/23

David Furlonger

 

31/07/23

David Furlonger

David Furlonger Profile:
In the Month of July, we celebrate Nelson Mandela’s legacy in South Africa, as part of Mandela Month we are celebrating people and organisations who actively work towards making South Africa better. We had a quick chat with renowned journalist David Furlonger who for 24 years has contributed to education and improving literacy in South Africa through his involvement with Rally to Read.

  • Please let us know about your professional role, what keeps you busy on a daily:
    I am Editor-at-Large on Financial Mail. I manage a number of special publishing projects for the magazine but am also responsible for the magazine's involvement in Rally To Read. In addition, I report and comment on the motor industry and business education for the Financial Mail and its sister publication, Business Day.

  • What is the role that you play at READ/Rally To Read:
    I am a member of the Rally To Read national steering committee. This involves marketing the programme, fund-raising, attracting sponsors, and advising and supporting the READ Educational Trust, which actually manages the programme in schools. My responsibilities also include co-hosting rallies and explaining to sponsors the reach and effect of Rally To Read within the South African educational system.

  • Why did you get involved with their projects and how long have you been involved for?
    2023 is the 25th anniversary of Rally To Read. I have been involved since 1999. It was launched in 1998 after the Human Sciences Research Council asked the Durban-based McCarthy Motors group for the loan of offroad vehicles to investigate the state of primary education in rural KZN. The results were shocking and McCarthy Motors, under its CEO Brand Pretorius responded by delivering R180,000 of classroom books and stationery to impoverished schools in the Nkandla district of KZN. The company quickly realised this was not enough and decided to take Rally To Read national. At the time, I was the Financial Mail's managing editor. Brand came to see me and our then- chief editor, Peter Bruce, and we agreed to use our influence in the business community to lead a national sponsorship drive. This succeeded beyond our expectations and many of South Africa's biggest corporations, as well as private individuals, became sponsors. One of the attractions is that Rally To Read belongs to no one. It is a common cause in which everyone works together. For example, many of SA's motor companies, including Ford, have supported the programme almost from day one. They put aside their usual competitive instincts in pursuit of a common goal.

    One of the more remarkable things about Rally To Read is that, once they have experienced it, sponsors tend to stay with the programme. It gives them a perspective like no other. Unlike many education CSI programmes, where sponsors hand over their money and hope for the best, Rally To Read organises offroad convoys so they can visit the schools they are supporting and hand over their goods in person - be it stationery, sports equipment or classroom books selected by the Read Educational Trust. Sponsors meet the children they are supporting, as well as their families and local communities. Each school is supported for at least three years, so sponsors can see the reading and writing progress made by children. This is the main reason for my continued involvement in Rally To Read: seeing disadvantaged children progress not just educationally but also emotionally. Learning to read and write, and knowing someone cares about their future, gives them confidence. For me, seeing this progress is inspirational. So is sharing the experience with sponsors who share a common vision for South Africa. There's also the opportunity to travel through spectacular parts of the country to reach some of our more remote schools.

  • What is the legacy you want to leave behind when it comes to literacy and education in South Africa?
    Quite simply, I want every South African child to be given an equal opportunity to succeed. But within South Africa's dysfunctional education system, that's not happening. Understandably, national and provincial education spending is concentrated in urban areas. But there appears to be little appetite in most provinces to make the effort in far-flung communities, many of which are left to fend for themselves. Consequently, it's no surprise that the average 14-year-old rural SA child has a reading age of seven.

    This is disaster not just for the children but also for South Africa. Many of the children we meet are bursting with untapped intelligence - it's incredible to see the progress once they are exposed to Rally To Read. Given the chance, they could make a huge contribution to South Africa.

  • What is the importance of Rally to Read and other READ trust projects?
    The importance of Rally To Read is twofold. Not only does it provide educational materials and opportunity to schools and children that might otherwise go without, but it also raises awareness of their plight. Most sponsors, on their first visits, confess they had no idea of the difficulties faced in outlying parts of the country. But the programme also raises awareness in government. The national department of basic education has sought our advice in the past on how to service not just rural schools but also primary schools generally. In the early days of Rally To Read, some provincial education departments refused to acknowledge us because they saw our presence in their schools as an implicit criticism of their own activities. Now they all work with us, because they have come to recognise we are there to support, not replace. They understand our basic credo that we can achieve more in partnership than in conflict.

In general terms, my involvement in education is long-standing. I was a schoolteacher in Scotland before I turned to journalism. My brother is a schoolteacher. So are my two sons - one here and the other in the UK. Both are married to schoolteachers. I have served on the governing bodies of primary and high schools. For the Financial Mail, I am specialist writer on business education.

I started my journalism career at my local newspaper, the Surrey Advertiser, in the south of England. Since then, I have worked in Scotland, Australia, Zimbabwe and South Africa in almost every news-gathering media: radio, TV, newspapers, magazines and news agencies, including Reuters. I have covered almost every conceivable news beat. They've included full-time sportswriter, news editor, UK royal correspondent, war correspondent, travel writer and arts correspondent.
Besides my current work for Financial Mail and Business Day, I contribute to several overseas publications. In my spare time, I run, cycle, read and walk my three dogs.
I am married to Carol, a nurse, and have two sons, Neill and James.

David Furlonger Profile:
In the Month of July, we celebrate Nelson Mandela’s legacy in South Africa, as part of Mandela Month we are celebrating people and organisations who actively work towards making South Africa better. We had a quick chat with renowned journalist David Furlonger who for 24 years has contributed to education and improving literacy in South Africa through his involvement with Rally to Read.

  • Please let us know about your professional role, what keeps you busy on a daily:
    I am Editor-at-Large on Financial Mail. I manage a number of special publishing projects for the magazine but am also responsible for the magazine's involvement in Rally To Read. In addition, I report and comment on the motor industry and business education for the Financial Mail and its sister publication, Business Day.

  • What is the role that you play at READ/Rally To Read:
    I am a member of the Rally To Read national steering committee. This involves marketing the programme, fund-raising, attracting sponsors, and advising and supporting the READ Educational Trust, which actually manages the programme in schools. My responsibilities also include co-hosting rallies and explaining to sponsors the reach and effect of Rally To Read within the South African educational system.

  • Why did you get involved with their projects and how long have you been involved for?
    2023 is the 25th anniversary of Rally To Read. I have been involved since 1999. It was launched in 1998 after the Human Sciences Research Council asked the Durban-based McCarthy Motors group for the loan of offroad vehicles to investigate the state of primary education in rural KZN. The results were shocking and McCarthy Motors, under its CEO Brand Pretorius responded by delivering R180,000 of classroom books and stationery to impoverished schools in the Nkandla district of KZN. The company quickly realised this was not enough and decided to take Rally To Read national. At the time, I was the Financial Mail's managing editor. Brand came to see me and our then- chief editor, Peter Bruce, and we agreed to use our influence in the business community to lead a national sponsorship drive. This succeeded beyond our expectations and many of South Africa's biggest corporations, as well as private individuals, became sponsors. One of the attractions is that Rally To Read belongs to no one. It is a common cause in which everyone works together. For example, many of SA's motor companies, including Ford, have supported the programme almost from day one. They put aside their usual competitive instincts in pursuit of a common goal.

    One of the more remarkable things about Rally To Read is that, once they have experienced it, sponsors tend to stay with the programme. It gives them a perspective like no other. Unlike many education CSI programmes, where sponsors hand over their money and hope for the best, Rally To Read organises offroad convoys so they can visit the schools they are supporting and hand over their goods in person - be it stationery, sports equipment or classroom books selected by the Read Educational Trust. Sponsors meet the children they are supporting, as well as their families and local communities. Each school is supported for at least three years, so sponsors can see the reading and writing progress made by children. This is the main reason for my continued involvement in Rally To Read: seeing disadvantaged children progress not just educationally but also emotionally. Learning to read and write, and knowing someone cares about their future, gives them confidence. For me, seeing this progress is inspirational. So is sharing the experience with sponsors who share a common vision for South Africa. There's also the opportunity to travel through spectacular parts of the country to reach some of our more remote schools.

  • What is the legacy you want to leave behind when it comes to literacy and education in South Africa?
    Quite simply, I want every South African child to be given an equal opportunity to succeed. But within South Africa's dysfunctional education system, that's not happening. Understandably, national and provincial education spending is concentrated in urban areas. But there appears to be little appetite in most provinces to make the effort in far-flung communities, many of which are left to fend for themselves. Consequently, it's no surprise that the average 14-year-old rural SA child has a reading age of seven.

    This is disaster not just for the children but also for South Africa. Many of the children we meet are bursting with untapped intelligence - it's incredible to see the progress once they are exposed to Rally To Read. Given the chance, they could make a huge contribution to South Africa.

  • What is the importance of Rally to Read and other READ trust projects?
    The importance of Rally To Read is twofold. Not only does it provide educational materials and opportunity to schools and children that might otherwise go without, but it also raises awareness of their plight. Most sponsors, on their first visits, confess they had no idea of the difficulties faced in outlying parts of the country. But the programme also raises awareness in government. The national department of basic education has sought our advice in the past on how to service not just rural schools but also primary schools generally. In the early days of Rally To Read, some provincial education departments refused to acknowledge us because they saw our presence in their schools as an implicit criticism of their own activities. Now they all work with us, because they have come to recognise we are there to support, not replace. They understand our basic credo that we can achieve more in partnership than in conflict.

In general terms, my involvement in education is long-standing. I was a schoolteacher in Scotland before I turned to journalism. My brother is a schoolteacher. So are my two sons - one here and the other in the UK. Both are married to schoolteachers. I have served on the governing bodies of primary and high schools. For the Financial Mail, I am a specialist writer on business education.

I started my journalism career at my local newspaper, the Surrey Advertiser, in the south of England. Since then, I have worked in Scotland, Australia, Zimbabwe and South Africa in almost every news-gathering media: radio, TV, newspapers, magazines and news agencies, including Reuters. I have covered almost every conceivable news beat. They've included full-time sportswriter, news editor, UK royal correspondent, war correspondent, travel writer and arts correspondent.
Besides my current work for Financial Mail and Business Day, I contribute to several overseas publications. In my spare time, I run, cycle, read and walk my three dogs.
I am married to Carol, a nurse, and have two sons, Neill and James.

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