This year’s Winter School in Gauteng was one with a difference, with the theme 10 Years- My IkamvaYouth, My Future!! Not only were we celebrating IkamvaYouth at 10 years but we were also celebrating all the plans and hopes that we had for this Winter School. For the Winter School 2013 ‘official opening’, we were graced by Anastasia Peters Francis, from the Absa CSI department. Anastasia elaborated on Absa’s commitment to youth empowerment, among other CSI initiatives. She encouraged the learners to give their best, even as Absa believes the IkamvaYouth learners across the country are well able to pass. Absa funded Winter School costs for six IkamvaYouth branches across the country. Concluding with Susan Boyle’s YouTube video, and sharing her story of fighting cancer, she charged the learners not to lose hope, but to become the best that they could be during this Winter School. Excitement filled the hall as learners paid attention to every single word spoken by the Absa representative. Pankie Rapholo, an Ikamvanite who matriculated in 2012, and who is now studying a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Johannesburg told his story on how such programmes as the Winter School had made it possible for him to pass. “Anything is possible,” were the words that came out from both speakers.

The next ten days were managed in an orderly manner with learners starting off their day with either compulsory Maths or English fundamentals. There was a huge presence of tutors who came to support and help the learners. Tutoring took place right until lunch-time and those who were eager to continue after that were given the room to do so whilst food was being served. One of the tutors, Mbali Dlamini, had this to say; “I would rather spend my university vacation with the learners than spend my time sitting on my couch watching TV.”

We were visited by Love Life from the Tembisa Region every afternoon and these representatives would take all the learners through fun youth-minded building activities such as HIV/AIDS Awareness, Body Awareness, Identity, Life Skills, Singing and Dancing. LoveLife’s Making My Move Programme was an action-oriented, personal discovery programme which the learners quickly got hooked to. Making My Move was a young people’s call to action for personal growth and development. The programme took young people through a process of identifying and pursuing opportunities for their own personal growth and development. 

 

We were also visited by Standard Bank on Wednesday the 26th of June as they came to give all our tutors a financial literacy workshop. Financial literacy is the ability to understand how money works in the world: how someone manages to earn or make it, how that person manages it, how he/she invests it and how that person donates it to help others. More specifically, it refers to the set of skills and knowledge that allows an individual to make informed and effective decisions with all of their financial resources. Raising interest in personal finance is now a focus of Standard Bank and this was a little way of appreciating our tutors- by availing free personal financial management training. 

Our Career Expo was a huge success with many exhibitors spending the day with the Ikamvanites as well as the community at large. Workshops were held out throughout the day and were open to anyone and everyone who was interested in knowing more. Many tertiary institutions availed learners with information on their requirements, and the various study fields. Companies present availed information on what it will take for the learner to be working with them in the years ahead. Absa had a mobile bank to help learners to open bank accounts.

 

Capitec bank came through on Wednesday the 3rd of July to conduct Financial Skills Workshops with all our Grade 11s and 12s. The learners were exposed to a world that they had never been to before. This information was further pressed onto the learners by Tzu Chi who brought in their representative, Shelton Chadya, who spoke to the learners about saving for tertiary and planning for their educational future. It is evident that IkamvaYouth is a great place to gain knowledge and our learners are more informed to make decisions that will impact the rest of their lives.

The 5th of July was the day the learners all went out for the much awaited for excursion. The day was filled with much fun and excitement as most of the learners had never been outside of Midrand. Freedom Park in Pretoria was the first destination for the day, where the Tour Guides told us that, ” The mandate of Freedom Park was the creation of a memorial and monument that will narrate a story spanning a period of 3.6 billion years through the following seven epochs: Earth, Ancestors, Peopling, Resistance and Colonisation, Industrialisation and Urbanisation, Nationalism and Struggle, Nation Building and Continent Building; as well as the Garden of Remembrance to acknowledge those that contributed to the freedom of the country.” It is also home to the Wall of names – an awe-inspiring structure (697m), inscribed with the names of those who died during eight conflicts within South Africa’s history. 

Our last stop of the day was Union Buildings which form the official seat of the South African Government and also houses the offices of the president of South Africa. They have a beautiful park on the premises and that is where we had lunch and gave out our certificates of appreciation and collages to all the tutors.

 

We want to continue to appreciate all the hard work put into this year’s Winter School. The learners are all very thankful for being given such awesome experiences, and are so grateful to our sponsors, staff and tutors. We look forward to next year!