IkamvaYouth Winter School has arrived! Whooooo!

IkamvaYouth Winter School has arrived! Whooooo!

The party is on! The much anticipated Winter School is nearly here. Applications are in, speakers are organised and a variety of amazing activities have been coordinated by the IkamvaYouth team and our wonderful volunteers. There are 5 winter schools taking place around South Africa – 3 in Western Cape, Gauteng, and KZN.

It all begins on the 27th June and will run until 16th July. These events bring together all the Ikamvanites; learners, volunteers, staff members, parents. 440 learners from some of South Africa’s most disadvantaged areas are spending their holidays developing their skills, identities and aspirations at the career oriented winter schools. We are lucky enough to have the support of many volunteers; tutors, speakers, and workshop facilitators, to help these events run smoothly (we hope!)

Ikamvanites get a talk at the 2010 Winter School

It is a way of introducing young learners from the townships to a wider world of opportunity through; targeted career advice and mentoring activities, supplementary tutoring, excursions and workshops, and through career speakers offering advice and support to enable the learners to access tertiary education and employment. IkamvaYouth’s volunteers are university students (many of them former IkamvaYouth learners), international volunteers, retirees, and subject specific professionals. In addition we are blessed with the support of University of  Western Cape (UWC), TsiBA, Durban Uninversity of Technology (DUT), Masiphumelele Library and Siyakhula Centre. All these institutions have generously offered their facilities and time free of charge.

IkamvaYouth is responding to South Africa’s educational crisis. South Africa’s educational system is ranked 97th out of 100 educational systems worldwide. In addition to this abysmal ranking, there is the pervasive problem of unequal access to education, particularly higher education; Only 10% South African youth access tertiary education, of which only a fraction come from townships (SAIRR, 2009), Matric pass rate of 59.9% Black learners compared to 99.6% for White learners in 2008 (WCED, 2008). IkamvaYouth addresses these inequalities and will redress this.

The Winter Schools are a step toward this. They offer space for youth to escape the harsh realities of township life, and while doing so they foster the ambition to succeed and build the capacity of youth to seize the opportunities available to them. The 2011 programme has taken a very career focused approach. Learners have been asked to sign up for different activity streams:

1) Leadership, health and life skills 2) Creative Expression and Arts 3) Media and Journalism 4) Technology and Engineering 5) Environmental Science, Geography and Sustainability 6) Physics and Chemistry 7) History, Social Justice and Political Science 8) Entrepreneurship and Business.

By grouping youth on the basis of their interests we hope to maximize the impact of workshops, excursions and speakers.

The schedules are jam-packed! The morning consists of small-group tutoring sessions focused on securing the literacy and numeracy fundamentals that often inhibit learners from achieving their potentials. Tutors work with learners in small groups, and provide real-time feedback in response to areas of difficulty. The afternoons are filled with a range of enriching workshops and excursions; from Wits University, to the Cheetah Outreach Park, to social entrepreneurship seminars, to satellite and engineering workshops, to pottery, to science practicals, to yoga, to writing, producing and printing a magazine. It is all here!

There is always room for more. If you want to get involved at any of our branches just contact the branch coordinators. Simple as that!

See branch venues and contact information;

Makhaza Branch,  Liesel Bakker: liesel@ikamayouth.org, at TsiBA

Nyanga Branch, Nombu Dziba: nombuyiselo@ikamvayouth.org, at UWC

Masihphumelele Branch,  Nicolas Commeignes: nicolasc@ikamvayouth.org, at Masiphumelele Library (masiphumelele_map_1.pdf and masiphumelele_map_2.pdf)

Ivory Park Branch, Joe Manciya: joe@ikamvayouth.org, at Siyakhula Centre

Cato Manor Branch,  Khona Dlamini: khona@ikamvayouth.org, at Durban University of Technology 

New Committed Tutors

New Committed Tutors

I am one of the volunteering tutors for IkamvaYouth in Maths and Science at the Makhaza branch and ever since I started helping out, which was about feb 2011, I have been enjoying every moment of it, absolutely have no regrets about nothing. One of the many reasons I devote a lot of my free time to helping these HighSchool children with their studies is because I was once a student in a disadvantaged school myself and I know what it’s like to have your dreams faded out by lack of study material or enough qualified teachers for science subjects, at the same time not affording Saturday classes and extra lessons. This can really make a student’s life difficult, and so I have decided to help the disadvantaged youth in any way I can academically and ikamvayouth is a good way of achieving that. I believe that without the youth, there is no tomorrow, and without educated youth there is no better tomorrow than today. We should all invest in their futures, not only for their sake but for the sake of humanity as well. I am also glad to have gone to my first SPW where me and other tutors had lots of fun collaborating with the most committed students in coming up with ideas to improve IY, during which I was given the opportunity to help out in other parts like the BranchComm, serving as the head of Operation Fikelela and also helping out with the administration of the ikamvayouth computer lab, along with some brilliant IY students who have a big interest in IT. There’s nothing better than somebody to look at you and say you’ve change their lives, and it’s just a privilege to teach these kids.

Less about Nationalisation, more about Education

Less about Nationalisation, more about Education

At the beginning of every year, 1.3 million children begin school in Grade 1 but only 550 000 write Matric. Of these, only 68% will pass. And of these, 25% scrape through with 30s and 40s.

The effective Matric pass-rate in South Africa every year is thus actually closer to 29%.

And this is before we even begin to look at university retention rates and the spine-chilling FET college pass rates. I often say to people that as bad as you think the education landscape in South Africa is, it’s actually worse.

Which brings me to the conclusion that if this is not a YOUTH ISSUE then I don’t know what is.

There is surely no more pressing concern for young people across this country than the dismal state of education that every year systematically robs them of their futures.

How is it then that education will barely feature at this weekend’s ANC Youth League elective conference as representatives of the most influential youth movement in the country meet to discuss their plans for the next four years? Can we not see that the chains of poverty are firmly entrenched in the dysfunctionality of our schools? Do we not realise that the failure of our education system is causing as much damage as the race-based policies of old? Are we so blinded by our personal agendas so as to be unable to distinguish between what will alleviate poverty and what will entrench it?

The ANCYL is absolutely correct and justifed to point out that we need more equitable and more workable solutions to the massive problems of land reform, to righting past injustices and to creating broad-based economic inclusion in this country (you would have a hard time arguing against this) but without the provision of quality education any/every solution will be temporary at best and exascerbating at worst. We simply cannot end poverty without the access to quality opportunities that decent education provides. This is the bottom line and it is a mantra we should repeat over and over again until we are blue in the face – we should NEVER grow tired of saying this. 

I guess what is especially puzzling is the assertion that nationalisation and wholesale land redistribution on its own is a solution to poverty. Any potential solution that is not also forward-looking and does not include improving education is tenuous at best. The hard truth is that there are not too many examples around the world, if any, where nationalisation has actually lessened the suffering of ordinary people. At best, the status quo remains the same and all that changes are the ‘elite’ at the trough. But on the contrary, there are countless examples of quality education acting as a springboard towards a better future not only for individuals but for an entire country  – look no further than Singapore.

But we don’t even need to look that far, at IkamvaYouth we discovered that the average first pay-cheque of a learner who joins IkamvaYouth, who improves her school marks, who gets into university and who graduates after three years will be 5 times the collective income of her entire household when she first joined IkamvaYouth. It’s as simple as that. In 5 years the cycle of poverty in a family is broken and it’s broken on the back of decent education.

We really need more creative and imaginative thought from our leaders and especially from the ANCYL as the problem of dismal education is a YOUTH problem. The empty platitude that everyone is entitled to quality education is clearly not going to cut it. This really is thus nothing short of a desperate plea on behalf the voiceless hundreds of thousands of young people to make this the number 1 priority in all programmes post this year’s elective conference. 

Finally, as this is Youth Day, June 16, we cannot but think of the young people of Soweto of 1976 who so courageously took to the streets and chanted slogans like “Liberation before Education” in front of an intimidating and ruthless foe. Today however, our minds must be unalterable in confronting a foe at least as intimidating and ruthless as before and we ask you to join us in declaring that now is the time of “Liberation through Education”.

Please consider volunteering at an IkamvaYouth branch near you.

Or if you can’t volunteer please consider a financial contribution towards ending poverty.

Or at the very least, please spread the word that we simply cannot end poverty without the access to quality opportunities that decent education provides and let’s hope that this finds traction in the corridors of influence.


* Photo: IkamvaYouth learners picket with Equal Education outside the Union Buildings in April 2011.
New Interns!

New Interns!

Name: Nisha

Where are you from? I’m from Georgia, in the United States.

How did you hear about Ikamva? Veronika and I came to South Africa with a college class in March and met with some of the learners then.

What were your favorite subjects in high school and why? I really enjoyed English, because I love reading.

 

Name: Veronika

Where are you from? I come from a small village in the south of the Czech Republic.

What were your favorite subjects in high school and why? I loved studying Czech history because it helped me understand my country and its people a lot better.

 

We’re looking forward to working with all of you for the next 5 weeks! We’re now busy planning for Winter School—its going to be awesome 🙂