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Rally to Read announces new children’s literacy ambassadors

10 February 2022 - 21:43 By Celeste Hewitt

Rally to Read is proud to welcome two new ambassadors: Emmanuel Taban, an award-winning lung doctor and pioneer in the treatment of Covid-19, and Barney Mthombothi, a former Financial Mail editor and now a newspaper writer.

At age 16 Taban escaped Sudan when his father died in the civil war and spent two years on the streets of Eritrea. After being rejected by an uncle in Kenya, he continued south, eventually reaching SA. With the help of charities, he restarted his education, becoming a doctor and then a pulmonologist. His story is told in his autobiography, The Boy Who Never Gave Up. Last year, Taban was named one of the 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine.

Former Financial Mail and KwaZulu-Natal based Sunday Tribune editor Mthombothi previously headed SABC News. He is a respected political analyst. His academic achievements include being a Reuters Fellow at Oxford in 1986 and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1994.

Taban and Mthombothi share Rally to Read’s unwavering commitment and devotion to promote literacy at grassroots level in remote rural schools across SA.

“We are extremely privileged and honoured to have Dr Taban and Mthombothi as our Rally to Read ambassadors,” said Brand Pretorius, Rally to Read's co-founder and chair of the National Organising Committee.

“We appreciate their willingness to join hands with us, and we look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship to bring optimism and improve the future of our youth.”

To date, Rally to Read’s programme has reached more than 1,000 schools by visiting selected Rally schools to provide books, teaching aids, educational equipment and more. The Rally also includes three-year teacher training, classroom support and mentoring. This training is provided by SA’s leading education NGO, READ Educational Trust, which monitors the progress of children and teachers.

Since Covid-19, the need for Rally to Read has expanded. Rural education has virtually ceased in many places. Teaching has been difficult without electricity, let alone computers, with parents fearing packed classes.

Rally to Read’s faculty ambassador programme is critical to developing its global footprint by spreading the message within sectors and into regions that need it most.

Taban and Mthombothi bring a range of diverse skills and innovative approaches, complementing the immense talent of Rally to Read's growing faculty ambassador team.

Fund the dream

Are you moved to contribute towards Rally to Read, to promote literacy in a country where the average 14-year-old rural child has a reading age of seven? The Rally needs your donation, no matter how small. Know that every cent you give will go a long way to promote literacy in rural areas, where it is needed most. Help them keep the Rally dream alive and fuel the literacy vision to new heights.


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