The Western Cape Government hosted the After-School Game Changer’s symposium on the 16th and 17th of February. The two days were packed with interesting speakers who work in different parts of the education and after-school sector. IkamvaYouth was fortunate to secure a spot at the end of the symposium to launch the findings of a quantitative assessment of the effectiveness of our programme. The assessment was conducted in 2016 by Servaas van der Berg and Lewis McLean, economists from Stellenbosch University.
In 2012, Prof van der Berg and Dr Nic Spaull produced Against the Odds, a largely qualitative study of IkamvaYouth, which provided a range of very useful insights, for example, into learners’ socio-economic situations, their performance in Maths and Science compared with the feeder schools, and the challenges they face at tertiary institutions. However, a major limitation of this study was the lack of realistic comparator groups that could serve as counterfactuals. A big challenge was finding an appropriate benchmark against which to measure the ikamvanites’ achievement. How do we know that their great results are due to IkamvaYouth, and not due to their own motivation and achievement which would have led them to perform well anyway, without being a part of IkamvaYouth?
We were thrilled to have Prof van der Berg return in 2016, together with Lewis McLean, to tackle this challenge and assess IkamvaYouth’s impact with a more rigorous approach. In Succeeding Against the Odds, the researchers have managed to control for learners’ prior performance (and thus for factors such as pre-programme motivation and ability), by matching learners with a comparison group of learners who were not part of IkamvaYouth, but achieved the same results in the grade 9 systemic assessments. They could then compare ikamvanites’ matric exam performance with this group of learners, as well as with the results of the feeder schools (in quintiles 1-3), and with quintile 5 schools.
The researchers presented their findings by taking the audience through this presentation, and demystifying the various graphs and statistics. The graphs depicting the distribution of scores for various groups of learners are especially compelling. As background for viewing these distributions, it’s helpful to have a look at Nic Spaull’s article about school inequality in South Africa, where he shows that we essentially have two public education systems operating in parallel; the distribution of scores for learners in the lower quintiles (poorest) schools, compared with those in quintile 5 (most privileged) are markedly distinct from one another. In Succeeding Against the Odds, van der Berg and McLean show that Ikamvanites’s scores bridge this gap, and, in the case of Life Sciences, even meet the distribution of quintile 5 schools.
Andrew Barret, from Olico, said that “what is especially noteworthy about this study is not just that it shows the clear impact of IkamvaYouth, but that it in all likelihood underestimates this impact. As impressive and significant as these results are, the reality is probably even better,” as the researchers included a host of control variables.
As part of the lead up to the presentation, we heard from Yanga Totyi who is the branch coordinator at our Atlantis branch, as well as Ntebaleng Morake an alumna from the Ebony Park who completed matric in 2012. IkamvaYouth Atlantis opened in June 2016 and Yanga spoke about the challenges and triumphs they have had so far. Ntebaleng Morake is a UCT graduate with an honours degree in Gender and Transformation. Ntebaleng accredits her exposure to different fields of study outside of the conventional to her time at IkamvaYouth. Through the programme she was able to meet young, black men and women who were studying and working in different fields and the poverty induced veil of ignorance was lifted.
After the presentation, Dr van der Berg mentioned that the 2012 evaluation had made two recommendations: (i) The alumni in tertiary are struggling and need additional support, and (ii) the researchers cautioned against fast organisational growth, as they felt that the dilution of the organisation’s enthusiastic leadership across a much bigger organisation may lead to the programme losing some its attractiveness to students. He said he was very glad that the organisation had heeded his first recommendation (by establishing the alumni department), and not the second (IkamvaYouth is now operating in 16 townships; a relatively quick expansion from the 5 sites in operation in 2012). When asked for his opinion on what it is that makes the programme effective, Dr van der Berg said he suspects that there is something in the model which makes motivation contagious. He advised us to look into research around Nudge theory, which we will do, as we continue to understand just what it is that makes the ikamvanites so awesome.
We were very encouraged by the participation from other practitioners in the field, who chose to spend their Friday afternoon with us engaging with statistics. Some attendees took to the Twittersphere during the launch:
IkamvaYouth sends out loud big-up thank yous to:
DGMT, which got us onto this evaluation journey back in 2012
The Omidyar Network, which funded the 2015 evaluation
The Department of the Premier of the Western Cape, which accommodated us alongside the very auspicious Game-Changer symposium
Yanga and Ntebaleng for speaking at the launch, and grounding this research and the findings within the contextual realities of daily branch operations, and #feesmustfall activism respectively
Dr Servaas van der Berg, Lewis McLean and Nic Spaull from RESEP whose insights and perspectives on our work are greatly valued, especially as we know that they are all used to working with far larger datasets, for far more important entities (like the national Government!)
On the 28th of January and the 4th of February, the Nyanga Branch launched its Mentoring Programme for the Matric cohort of 2017. Invited to the event were mentors, mentees and the parents of the mentees. The mentors were given two dates to choose from in order to accommodate their work schedules.
The programme of the day started with a quick ice-breaker of Human Bingo. Mentors and mentees were paired up to play the game in order to get the group more relaxed. After the fun ice-breaker, the group went back into the classroom to continue with the formal part of the programme. The formal part of the programme included a background on IkamvaYouth as an organsation; a breakdown of the mentoring programme and the important milestones in the matric year. The branch was also proud to introduce the Mentoring Passport which will guide the mentoring relationship for the duration of the year.
The mentor launch counted as the first mentoring session of the year. The mentors were paired with their mentees for the year who then went off to sit outside in their pairs to start their mentoring journey. The main aim of this first session was for mentors and mentees to get to know each other. The session also focused on the mentor getting to know the goals and aspirations of their mentee.
The session was closed off with refreshments and a group photograph.
IkamvaYouth Nyanga Branch looks forward to seeing the mentoring relationships grow during the course of 2017.
[Mentor and Mentee Group photograph]
[Mentors and Mentees playing Human Bingo]
[First session in action]
[Mentor, mentee and parent trio]
[Mentor and Mentee during their first session]
IkamvaYouth Ebony Park, held the 2017 open day on Saturday the 28th of January. This open day was attended by over 340 people, most of which were IkamvaYouth learners, parents, community leaders, educators and IkamvaYouth volunteers.
This magnificent affair kicked off in the morning and was blessed with beautiful weather. We had a lot of activities which kept everyone present energized and informed about IkamvaYouth and its programmes. Lerato from the Ivory Park branch started the programme with a video presentation of the IkamvaYouth model. IkamvaYouth maintains a 1:5 ratio (one volunteer for five learners). Lerato explained that this ensured that enough attention is given to each learner. During her presentation Lerato reiterated the IkamvaYouth mission, which is to enable disadvantaged youth to overcome poverty through education.
The programme for the open day was engaging and informative. Welsh Dube, a committed IkamvaYouth Ebony Park volunteer, lead the programme as MC.
Amongst the many activities was motivational speaking by Percyval Mabizela one of Ebony Parks longest serving tutors who spoke about keys to open doors to success in 2017. Laughter erupted across the hall with a comedy performance by a former Ikamva learner from the class of 2016 Andrew Fezile Sicongwane.
Learners, parents and community members were mesmerized by a presentation from IkamvaYouth Alum Kefilwe Maake, who matriculated in 2015 with five distinctions, and is now doing Chemical Engineering at the University of Cape Town. The top performer for 2016, Motlatso Maredi, obtained three distinctions and will be studying at UCT towards a Bcom in Accounting Science.
The highlight of the day was the prize giving ceremony, which awarded outstanding academic achievers with generous prizes (Casio calculator, bags, power banks, certificates and diaries) sponsored by Coca Cola Beverages South Africa and IkamvaYouth. Among those who attended were sponsors and IkamvaYouth partners such as Tzu Ching Foundation, an organisation devoted to spreading love through its work in charity, medicine education and culture. Long serving sponsor and partner to IkamvaYouth Coca Cola Beverages South Africa was represented by Lebogang Tlomatsane who gave a presentation on the relationship between IkamvaYouth and Coca Cola.
Kudos to all involved with IkamvaYouth Ebony Park for making this open day a success. Much gratitude to the sponsors for helping IkamvaYouth fulfill its mission and for sponsoring this event. Truly IkamvaYouth 2017 Ebony Park open day has unlocked doors to success in 2017.
“You learn something every day if you pay attention” by Ray LeBlond
The mentoring programme is a first for the Kuyasa branch as it also hosts its first class of matrics. The branch opened its doors to grade 11 learners only in 2016 and we are excited for what 2017 has to offer. A mentor helps a learner make positive choices about their future and enables them to choose which career path to follow and to have a good idea of career options available to them after Matric. Mentors provide guidance on academic opportunities.
On Saturday the 21st of January the first mentoring session was held at Kuyasa Library. In attendance there were parents and learners awaiting to meet the new mentors for the year 2017. Ntombi, Kuyasa Programme Coordinator, introduced the mentors to the parents and learners and provided a refresher for everyone as to what IkamvaYouth offers. Parents were informed about mentoring, what it entails and how they can support mentors throughout the year by ensuring that the learners benefit from the mentoring programme .Mentors were given a chance to introduce themselves, share what their current professions are and why they volunteered to be a part of the mentoring program.
The learners were allocated time to introduce themselves to the mentors and share their aspirations. The learners were both anxious and excited as they had to express themselves in front of their parents and the unfamiliar faces of their new mentors. The parents and mentors cheered as they heard the learners share their goals and the career paths that they want to follow in the next five years.
The mentors and mentees were paired based on career interests to enable the mentor to provide solid guidance to their mentee. Ntombi shared the mentor-mentee passports with the mentors which allow the pair to track their progress against the months. The passport provides a list of activities to be completed in the monthly mentoring gatherings.