By: Micheal Thema

When the school holidays approach, most high school learners are excited to go home to the homelands to visit grandparents and relatives. School holidays help students take some much needed time off to relax and relieve the stress of schooling. This is not the case with IkamvaYouth learners. IkamvaYouth learners are required to attend an annual winter school during the school winter holidays, to brush up on basics they may have missed during normal school days and offer additional support for the subjects they are struggling.

The IkamvaYouth winter school covers concepts that might have been unclear to learners, tutors assist with simplifying complex concepts and topics, and consolidate basics. Furthermore, the programme is not all academically focused, this year we had more fun than ever. The Agora Talent show, Love Life games and many more activities were implemented in this year’s winter school.

Our 2018 winter school theme, created by the learner representative was ‘Be Bold’. The ‘Be Bold’ campaign revolves around people being able to speak for themselves; showing a willingness to take risks; being confident and courageous; it’s believing in your ability and knowing who you are and what you stand for. Furthermore, learners were encouraged to think out of their comfort space and being able to take steps academically to achieve better marks.

The branch welcomed students from the University of Johannesburg, University of the Witwatersrand, Pearson institute, University of Pretoria and UNISA who came in their droves to tutor. The first week of winter school mainly focused on mathematics, two more core subject from each stream and English basics. The branch conducted more one-on-one sessions to better assist learners and also helped them create goals for the particular subject. Grade 9 & 10s had an online career assessment to determine the career prospects of each learner. The career assessment was to look into each learners qualities and recommend career options to suit the learner’s gifts and talents. After the assessment, the learners where give a report on the possible career options they can pursue.

I always knew I wanted to become an engineer, and now I know what kind of engineering I will do“, said Koketso Manyama after receiving her assessment report.

The branch also had a visit from Love Life who facilitated dialogues on teenage pregnancy and safe sex practices. The organization also had a number of outdoor activities which promote teamwork and leadership amongst the IkamvaYouth learners. This act helped learners socialize, connect and have fun together. The branch finished the week with the Agora Talent Show organized by the learner representatives of the branch. The first week of winter school concluded with an entertaining treasure hunt. The young talent of Ebony Park showcased their magic to the crowds and tutors treated the audience with a play by the “Mraka Acting Gang” and a performance by Musa the poet.

The second week of winter school was a buildup from the first week, the branch dedicated the second week to tests and assessments of the content covered in week one. The branch covered tests from all subjects with the aim of generating a report to learners. The branch organized a debate and public speaking contest where learners were given topics to challenge their thinking and help them engage with high-level thinking. The branch had a reading club which was aimed at improving learners reading abilities as literacy and reading was a major concern during the first week of winter school. The branch focused on the novel, 1984 by George Orwell and the Sherlock Holmes stories, this was an initiative from tutors to aid reading skills and literacy among the learners. The key objective was to promote reading for meaning which is a major academic problem identified at the branch. There was a resolution to carry on with the reading club and continue advancing reading skills throughout the year.

The week was brought to a close with outdoor games, such as the egg on a spoon race, 30 Seconds, Monopoly and many more.

With the support of Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa; who have been supporting the branch for many years, the Ebony Park branch will continue to address some of the identified challenges our education system is currently facing through volunteerism, hard work, and perseverance to ensure that our future leaders achieved their goals.