I was very honoured to be invited by Capitec Bank and Argo Publishers to participate in a panel discussion together with some amazing women who’re doing extraordinary work in education. On 4th July we met at the Sandton Convention centre to discuss how to really make a difference to the learners in our schools, by sharing, combining and collaborating across all the different systems to make a systemic impact. My fellow panelists were:

The minutes of our discussion are available here

The conversation was a great opportunity to reflect on the power of collaboration, and to gain a better understanding of effective ways in which to collaborate. I shared some of the experiences IkamvaYouth and Capitec have had in working together towards common goals. 

IkamvaYouth was initially entirely run and funded by volunteers, and then our early years were funded mostly by foundations; many of which continue to support our work years on. In the past 2-3 years, corporate south Africa has begun to take notice of our work, as the people who come through our program are the kinds of people they want to hire. In addition to being academic achievers, ikamvanites live the values of giving back/paying-it-forward, and have gained valuable work experience through being branchcom members.

These partnerships provide huge scope for innovative collaboration beyond funding, and in addition to multi-year financial support, Capitec is assisting IkamvaYouth in the following ways:

* Programme delivery

Capitec staff have enthusiastically become involved in working directly with our learners. During the recent winter schools, they held financial literacy training programmes for all the Western Cape branches, and will be participating in the upcoming Careers Indaba.

* Measuring impact

The realiability of learners’ school reports at some schools can be problematic, and accessing this data is often challenging (although it’s illegal to withhold school reports due to unpaid school fees, many schools continue to do so). It’s thus quite tricky to know how our learners are doing until they write the national exams. Capitec has stepped in to address this challenge by opening up the assessments they use for recruitment, which measure literacy, numeracy and problem-solving abilities. 

* Enabling access to opportunities 

Capitec has a progressive policy whereby they hire people from the communities where their branches are. As they’re bringing banking to under-served communities which are typically under-resourced, they’re struggling to find prospective employees who’re sufficiently numerate and literate. 

One of our Makhaza tutors, Unathi Smile, wrote the Capitec assessments and made it all the way through to becoming recruited! Capitec has also awarded bursaries to cover grade 10s’ school fees at IkamvaYouth’s feeder schools.

* Infrastructure support

As Capitec upgrades its computer equipment, they’ve set about refurbishing and delivering them to IkamvaYouth branches to enable the establishment of new labs and expansion of existing ones.

* Strategic support:

Capitec has scaled a simple, smart solution to reach communities in need. Sbusiso Khumalo has joined IkamvaYouth’s board of directors, and is providing advice and guidance to enable us to scale and meet the demand for our services while still maintaining our track record of results.

These are just some of the examples where smart, easy collaboration leads to greatly enhanced reach and impact. The challenges presented by the crisis in education are far too large and looming for one organisation, company or even Government Department to overcome alone. A large-scale collaborative effort is called for, and IkamvaYouth is greatly appreciative of the combined efforts of our donors and partners which are making great strides and changing lives.