Education is an essential foundation on which to build a thriving society, and teachers are the builders of that foundation. While it is necessary to show appreciation to teachers at any time, this World Teacher’s Month is a particularly important opportunity for AVBOB to recognise teachers for their hard work and contribution to society.
The Department of Basic Education’s theme, “Working in Solidarity with Teachers During the Covid-19 Pandemic,” is especially pertinent in this time of drastic change and challenge that calls for all sectors of society to work together to ensure the continued wellbeing of our nation. Throughout the current pandemic, teachers have shown admirable leadership and innovation in maintaining the support that they give to their learners. Despite the unprecedented challenges brought on by Covid-19, we’re seeing and hearing so many outstanding stories of teachers rising to the occasion and going above and beyond the call of duty for their learners. We are awe-struck by teachers who have had to transition from their normal procedures to remote learning, developing new lesson plans, compiling study material, and finding new ways to supervise and connect with their learners, and teachers have done this whilst coping with the impact of Covid-19 on their families and personal lives too. In addition, many teachers are also stepping up to support their neighbouring communities.
As an organisation, AVBOB can identify with these challenges and appreciate the leadership and innovation required to succeed, despite the conditions created by the pandemic. Possessing “courage under fire” is what has made AVBOB the organisation that it is today. Therefore, as we observe World Teacher’s Month, we hope that in our business practices, philanthropic initiatives, and even in the very story of our organisation; we can convey a message of appreciation, compassion, and hope to the teachers of our nation.
It is no surprise that during the present pandemic, AVBOB has shown remarkable resilience as a leader in the funeral insurance and funeral service industry. To understand why one has to reflect on the conditions created by the Spanish Flu epidemic that arrived in South Africa following the First World War. Our nation suffered numerous fatalities and considerable trauma, both emotional and financial, as many families were unable to meet the expense of a dignified funeral.
The original founders of AVBOB developed a solution to create a business that will be guided by the principle of Putting People First. The concept of uplifting our members has not only been the guiding principle for AVBOB but the crux of our corporate DNA. Our business model is rooted in our status as a “mutual society”. As a mutual, AVBOB has no shareholders. The profits that result from the various subsidiaries in the Group are deployed for the benefit of our members, who are our policyholders.
Moreover, we have dedicated ourselves to producing mutual value in communities in which we operate. As a leading funeral service and insurance provider, AVBOB contributes greatly towards community development through various Corporate Social Investment programmes. A significant portion of the work conducted by The AVBOB Foundation comprises initiatives that create safe spaces for learners to receive education whilst supplying teachers with as many tools in their toolboxes as possible.
In 2017 AVBOB pledged R150 million to assist the Department of Basic Education (DBE) with their existing endeavours to upgrade schools’ infrastructure all over South Africa and R15 million of the pledged amount was earmarked for the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) initiative which aims to provide safe ablution facilities at identified schools.
Through its flagship Container Library Project, AVBOB has provided 56 fully-equipped libraries to underprivileged schools since the project’s commencement in 2013. While education is of utmost importance, our initiatives are not limited to classroom activity, but also address the general welfare of our educators and learners.
As part of the World Teacher’s Month celebrations, the Department of Basic Education will be addressing various pertinent issues that affect the life, work, and wellbeing of teachers, including Gender-Based Violence (GBV). AVBOB recognises and accepts the responsibility that comes with being a compassionate corporate citizen by taking a stand against GBV and doing all we can to help stop this very visible epidemic in our society.
This year AVBOB joined the fight against GBV by backing several non-profit organisations across the country. Our campaign against GBV launched in July with a significant donation to seven organisations that assist victims of gender-based violence in underprivileged communities and proceeded with the introduction of the 365+ Campaign, through which AVBOB sponsors a helpline platform managed by the TEARS Foundation. The TEARS Foundation pioneers this free 24-hour Help-at-Your-Fingertips service to empower victims of GBV to speak up and find support and resources.
While there have been various challenges, and more are still to come, the support that AVBOB continues to show to teachers is one way in which we can demonstrate that “we’re here for you®” – through the pandemic and beyond.