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The national skills development and business incubation centre, Furntech, is heeding the call to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday on Wednesday 18 July by handing over a total of 564 refurbished or new school desks in six centres across the country.

The Furniture Technology Centre Trust (Furntech) is the national skills development and business incubation centre for the furniture and wood related industries. The organisation is supported by the Small Enterprise Development Agency’s Technology Programme (Stp) and assists entrepreneurs to establish small furniture making businesses. It is also a registered and accredited training centre that offers learning programmes in cabinet making, wood machining, wood finishing and upholstery skills.

Michael Reddy, Chief Executive Officer of Furntech, says the organisation is a not-for profit organisation and does not have the cash reserves to make donations. He says the Furntech staff are inspired by Nelson Mandela and his legacy, and wanted to heed the call for everyone to volunteer their services for international Mandela Day, and to try to make a difference to the lives of needy people.

“Our board of trustees and staff decided that we would try to identify projects that would benefit from our assistance. We know that there is a never-ending list of needy ventures and as a small organisation with limited resources, it was difficult to make a final selection. When we heard about the Department of Education’s 94+ Schools Project, our staff decided that they wanted to pool their technical skills and experience and to take action and improve the learning environment of children at schools in the communities we serve,” says Reddy.

“A key motivator in our decision was Madiba’s statement that education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world,” says Reddy.

There are six Furntech Centres in South Africa and each centre approached a local school to find out whether they needed any assistance with their school furniture. After discussions with the principals of schools, the Department of Education and Seda, it was agreed that the following schools would be supported:

  • Intshinga Primary School in Gugulethu, Cape Town
  • Dr Macken Mistray Primary School in Durban
  • Reshile Primary School in Meadowlands, Soweto
  • Ekhwezi Community Senior Primary School in Ekhwezi, Mthatha
  • DRC High School in Emajaldini Area, Umzimkhulu 
  • Sitinhile High School in Kanyamazane, White River

“We decided to refurbish or replace 94 learner desks per school. This has taken a lot of planning, long hours and hard work by our staff. Refurbished desk tops needed to be unscrewed from their metal legs and sanded down, repaired and spray painted. New desks were cut on the CNC machines in our centres and spray painted. The legs had to be repainted before the desks could be reassembled and delivered to the schools with as little disruption to school activities as possible,” says Reddy.

“On Wednesday 18 July, members of our board of trustees, staff and Seda will join the principals, teachers, learners and representatives from the Department of Education at the schools to hand over the desks, sing happy birthday, and pay tribute to the grandfather of our nation.”

ISSUED BY: Seda - Small Enterprise Development Agency
MEDIA ENQUIRIES TO: Lindokuhle Nkomonde – Manager: Corporate Communications and Media Relations
E-MAIL: lnkomonde@seda.org.za
TEL: 012 441 1210
Date: Wednesday, 16 July 2012