In 2003, two young researchers at the Human Sciences Research Counci (HSRC), Joy Olivier and Makhosi Gogwana, were looking at the ways in which science, technology, innovation, research and development boost economic growth. Interested in the links between education, skills, employment and economic growth, they were shocked by the abysmal maths and science results of black matriculants. The two researchers spent many hours discussing the implications of these poor matric results for fostering unemployment, poverty, inequality and injustice in South Africa, and the need for something to be done about it.
Joy and Makhosi had travelled very different educational paths to arrive at the same job at the HSRC (for which over 300 people had applied): Joy's priveleged secondary schooling in Pietermaritzburg was a very different world to Makhosi's in Khayelitsha. Comparing their experiences, they realised that many of the obstacles and problems Makhosi had faced in accessing tertiary education were due to a lack of information and support.
Joy and Makhosi set off with youthful abandon, without drawing up a plan of any kind, to provide information and support to learners at Makhosi's old school. They sent out e-mails to all their friends asking “who wants to tutor at Makhosi’s old school?” And an overwhelming "yes" was the beginning of IkamvaYouth. Many more young volunteers and social entrepreneurs in many more communities across South Africa have since joined in this overwhelming "yes" and, as is evident from IkamvaYouth's results and impact, something is indeed being done.