Pharma CEO donates R1,2-m toward portable desks and challenges other bosses to do the same as learners return to school

As learners across the country prepare to go back to school, more than 3 million students will return to classrooms with no desks – a stark reality for so many children in many parts of our country’s peri-urban and rural areas.

The Tutudesk campaign, which provides portable school desks, known as Tutudesks, to children in sub-Saharan Africa, and has been running for over a decade, is an initiative close the heart of Erik Roos, CEO of Pharma Dynamics.

Over the last two years, the company has donated in excess of 45 000 Tutudesks to beneficiary schools in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, in support of Tutudesk’s goal of getting 20 million desks to 20 million children by 2025.

As millions of learners return to school during the COVID-19 outbreak, Roos has made it his mission to ensure that children are both safe and have access to the right tools to equip themselves for the ‘new normal’.

To demonstrate his commitment, he will be donating a further R1,2 million towards the Tutudesk project, which will give thousands more of beneficiary learners access to desks – a critically important tool in their literacy and academic development. These Tutudesks also contain important COVID-19 related education messaging, designed to ensure that the beneficiary children and their communities are, and remain, constantly informed as to how best to stay safe during the pandemic.

To build on the campaign, Roos is challenging other business executives to also donate.

“We are living in unprecedented times; the pandemic has caused global disruption in many sectors, including education. As captains of industry, by supporting the Tutudesk campaign we have the dual means to change the impact of the pandemic and make a long-lasting, positive difference to millions of learners throughout our country.

“Research shows that the provision of Tutudesks to learners facilitates sharp, immediate improvements in multiple areas relating to literacy development and academic performance. Eighty percent of teachers cite an improvement in learners’ handwriting, while 77% says it’s made learning easier for their students and that they are able to teach more effectively. There is also an overall 65% improvement in homework delivery as the desks are portable and can be taken home”.

“While some learners may have desks, books, internet connectivity, a laptop or tablet at home or at school, the reality is that the many others don’t. We need to urgently, and wherever possible, minimise the differences in opportunities and level the playing field in order to facilitate and expand learning and not allow the COVID-19 crisis to have an even larger, detrimental impact on the learning of less-fortunate children and youths.

“Providing learners in impoverished areas with Tutudesks is an immediate and effective way in which CEOs and business leaders can respond – at the grassroots level – to immediately improving learning during the crisis, as well as constantly inculcating COVID-19 educational messaging to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable members of our society.

“I am calling on all CEO’s to join us in supporting this vitally important initiative. Let’s support our youth and give them the best chance of staying engaged in learning amid the pandemic,” encourages Roos.

Roos’ goal is to generate in excess of R8 million in funding to gift learners with another 50 000 Tutudesks during the 3rd school term.

To participate in Pharma Dynamics’ Tutudesk COVID-19 Challenge, interested companies or philanthropic organisations can contact Pharma Dynamics at

Issued by Meropa Communications on behalf of Pharma Dynamics. For further information, contact Brigitte Taim from Meropa on 021 683 6464, 082 410 8960 or

Editor’s notes:

About Pharma Dynamics: Headquartered in Cape Town, Pharma Dynamics is among the fastest growing top 20 pharmaceutical companies in the country. As of 2012, it maintains its position as the biggest supplier of cardiovascular pharmaceuticals in SA, both in terms of value and volume. Its products include central nervous system (CNS), gastrointestinal, diabetes, gynaecological and men’s health therapies. In 2013, it entered the SA anti-infective market, supplying IV antibiotics to hospitals. The firm’s over-the-counter (OTC) product portfolio includes antihistamines, cold & flu medication and heartburn treatment, among others.

Pharma Dynamics is wholly owned by Lupin Laboratories, the fourth largest generic pharmaceutical company globally by market capitalisation.

About the Tutudesk Campaign:  The Desmond Tutu Tutudesk Campaign is led by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, the objective of which is to provide 20 million African children with Tutudesks, by the end of 2025.

Focussing mainly on supporting peri-urban and rural primary schools, the provision of Tutudesks to learners directly addresses the issue of classroom desk shortages (approx. 3m  in South Africa and an estimated 95m+ in sub-Saharan Africa) providing immediate and sustainable improvements in the learning and educational experience of beneficiary learners, evidenced by improved literacy development and overall academic performance.



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Pharma Dynamics focuses on bringing ground-breaking, generic versions of biologic medicine to South Africans at affordable prices. What does this mean? We take complex combinations of sugars, proteins and nucleic acids made inside living cells and create biosimilars.