I am really glad to be at this fantastic experience here in South Africa! We are five persons from IKEA Norway and two persons from UNICEF Norway, who are all really nice people! In Pretoria we had a briefing by UNICEF South Africa. Here we received really good information about how they are working.
Because South Africa is a middle income country they are actually not that poor. But it is the country with the biggest inequality in the world, so there are very many poor children. Because it is a middle income country, UNICEF has to work stronger with the government and try to influence it as much as they can.
UNICEF does surveys and comes up with solutions, testing them in small ways, for example trying out solutions at a couple of schools and then coming back, hopefully with good results, to the government. If the government then thinks this is something that is good, they can apply it to the rest of the country. In UNICEF they call this “up-scaling” and the goal is to get the highest amount of return on investment as possible. I did not know that they were working so much in this way and I really see the benefits of this on this trip.
In November/December we had the Soft Toys Campaign at IKEA to support UNICEF and Save the Children. At UNICEF, the money is going to “Schools for Africa”. Last year, for every soft toy we sold, the IKEA Foundation gave one euro to these organizations. In our store, in Oslo Slependen, we sold 32,037 pieces, so IKEA Foundation gave a substantial contribution to “Schools for Africa”, which I think is fantastic!
Today we visited two schools to see how the work from UNICEF has contributed to a better world in these schools for children. In South Africa UNICEF has worked with the government to implement a program called “Safe and Caring Child-Friendly Schools”. The government is implementing this program over time, with advice from UNICEF, with great results. The two schools that we visited are in this program.
During our visits they showed us dramatic changes because of this program. The teachers tell us it has fantastic impact! What I think is really getting the program to work, is that they are actually asking the students, teachers, parents and society what they think. How can they develop a “Safe and Caring Child-Friendly school”? When they heard all of the people’s ideas, they created a program based on that.
After these days I have so much to say, but I can’t do it all today! So I’ll show some pictures from the great welcoming we received from one of the schools we visited!