School children in rural communities often must walk long distances to school, jeopardizing attendance and achievement. Through its Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program (BEEP), World Bicycle Relief (WBR) provides rural students with bicycles, to help them get to school more quickly and safely so they can spend less time walking and more time learning. In South Africa, the BEEP program is relatively new and the existing bike culture is less established than in some other developing countries. The purpose of this “opportunity study” was to identify the opportunity that bicycles could offer to rural South African schoolchildren; the critical factors that support and hinder implementation; and suggestions for program improvement. Results describe dramatic opportunity in terms of reduced travel time to school and increased on-time arrival, as well as self-reported claims of improvements in academic performance. The study also finds a number of challenges to frequent ridership, and offers programmatic considerations to help bicycles recognize their full potential in these and similar settings.
This project has been funded by UBS Optimus Foundation