Long distances between home and school are one of the main factors preventing children in rural Africa from acquiring an education. For example, half a million children in rural South Africa walk as much as six kilometres to school daily.
We can start to change that - offering hope and helping children get the education they need and deserve. Working together with the World Economic Forum, we at UBS want to help to give hope to schoolchildren by providing them with a proven vehicle for educational empowerment: a bicycle. Evidence shows that, by giving children bicycles to go to school – shortening their travel time by up to 75% – their school attendance and learning outcomes improve substantially.
At the 2015 World Economic Forum in Davos, UBS challenged 1,000 of the participants to have an impact on the lives of these children by signing up for The Davos Challenge: Walk for Education.
At this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, UBS will challenge 1,000 of the participants to have an impact on the lives of these children by signing up for The Davos Challenge: Walk for Education.
For every participant at the World Economic Forum's 2015 Annual Meeting who walked as far as an African child walks to get to school, UBS and the UBS Optimus Foundation promised to donate a bicycle to a schoolchild in Africa. A Fitbit® activity tracker was given to each participant to monitor the distance they walked.
The participants in the challenge more than beat our target, walking an average of 14km over the three days of the Forum. As a result, we were pleased to donate 2500 bicycles (one for every WEF participant) to our partner World Bicycle Relief, a charity with extensive experience in this area through its Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program ("Beep").
The first bicycles were distributed at a ceremony in the Limpopo region of South Africa in June 2015.
The Longer-term Effects
UBS Optimus Foundation will also sponsor a study by the Stanford Research Institute, to measure the impact of the bicycles donated through this Challenge, tracking the effect of the programme on the educational outcomes of the children taking part.
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UBS is a strategic partner of the World Economic Forum.