Right now, learners all across the country are either celebrating or commiserating after receiving their matric results. And the national numbers seem to suggest that whether matriculants are partying or weeping has a lot to do with their level of economic privilege and the resources of their schools.
But in townships around South Africa, a very special group of matriculants with a whole lot of reasons to celebrate are bucking that trend, and proving that the seemingly impossible is possible with hard work and a little help from one’s friends.
These young people are the ikamvanites, and this week they overcame all the challenges of their circumstances to achieve a national pass rate of 89% and an incredible 100% pass rate in both Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal – results far more privileged learners would be proud of!
Those aren’t just 30% passes either: 87% of ikamvanites achieved the Bachelor or Diploma passes they need to take their education to the next level and access the kinds of opportunities they need to fulfil their dreams of supporting and uplifting their families. Most remarkable of all, these learners aren’t waiting to uplift their communities, and 72% have already become volunteer tutors for the next cohorts of learners; ensuring the exponential replication of the IkamvaYouth model and reach.
Mamphela Ramphele reports that she’s thrilled to witness IkamvaYouth’s incredible growth and enormous impact. “IkamvaYouth saves learners from despair and grinding poverty and most importantly gives them hope... the organisaton’s sustainable model, extra-ordinary commitment and exceptional results inspire our nation.”
Talent Chinogureyi, an ikamvanite in Chesterville, KZN, enthused, “I want to go to university and study further so that when I graduate I can be the one to eradicate poverty at home." She achieved a Bachelor pass and a distinction for Accounting and has been accepted to study a B Com at prestigious private Johannesburg institution St Augustine College.
At the Masiphumelele branch of IkamvaYouth in the Western Cape, one learner overcame even more hardship than most. "The majority of people tend to think that once you have fallen pregnant, it is the end of the world. I have proved to them that there is still hope. Through all the hardships, I made it. I got a Bachelor pass... I say B for my Baby,” said Neliswa Mnaheni, who hopes to study Marketing next year.
While this has been a time of celebration for most ikamvanites, it has been very challenging for some. Thankfully, everyone that did not pass is eligible for supplementary exams, and IkamvaYouth will be supporting these learners to ensure that they are well-prepared to excel. Others were traumatised by the ongoing illegal practice of withholding results due to unpaid school fees or outstanding textbooks. While IkamvaYouth was able to step in and support families with school fee contributions thanks to its donors, there are thousands of learners across the country who do not have access to this kind of support. "The no-fees-no-report practice is unjust, humiliating and illegal and needs to end", says Joy Olivier, director of IkamvaYouth. "Our learners need these results in order to realise their dreams and schools need alternative avenues to access much-needed funds".
IkamvaYouth's work with the class of 2012 is also far from over. While many of those who passed have already been accepted by the country's top universities, there is still work to be done to ensure that none of the class of 2012 become unemployed. The next step is ensuring that all these learners access tertiary education, training, internships, learnerships or employment. “IkamvaYouth will continue to support all our 2012 matrics as they access quality post-school opportunities and become tutors; enabling the following years' learners to do the same,” says Zamo Shongwe, IkamvaYouth’s national coordinator.
IkamvaYouth invites everyone to get involved. There are branches in the Western Cape (Khayelitsha, Nyanga and Masiphumelele); KZN (Chesterville and Umlazi) and Gauteng (Ivory Park, and Ebony Park), North West (a new branch opening in Potchefstroom) and the Eastern Cape (a new branch opening in Grahamstown). IkamvaYouth has maintained a matric pass rate of between 85 and 100% each year since 2005, and true credit for these results must go to the learners, volunteers, the branch teams, partner organisations and donors.