In rural Districts of Malawi, Africa, literacy rates are as low as 60% and poverty rates are as high as 69%. There are also significant inequities between male and female students, with 80% more males than females completing secondary school or going beyond secondary school and 14% of females versus 8% of males never attending school.
Through his position with the Joliet Rotary Club, Spesia & Taylor partner John Spesia is working with Chicago-based World Bicycle Relief to provide seventy bicycles to help address these issues. John secured a grant from The Rotary Foundation and is now helping to implement a program that will provide 70 bicycles to qualified high school students and teachers in the Thyolo and Mulanji Districts of Malawi, Africa. Approximately 70% of the bicycles to female students and 30% to male students in an effort to improve education outcomes for women and obstacles facing female students that males do not face. Selection criteria for receipt of a bicycle will be established by a community-based committee comprised of local leaders. A well-suited community member will also be trained as a bicycle mechanic and the program will ensure that there is an adequate supply of spare parts. The local committees will also develop study-to-own-contracts whereby students can take ownership of their bike upon completing their studies.
Read more about seventeen-year-old Felistus in the Zomba District of rural Malawi being a part of the World Bicycle Relief program and describing the impact of having a bicycle in this article at worldbicyclerelief.org.