South Africa may have been in the middle of a chilly winter, but back at IkamvaYouth, over 1,600 high school learners were braving the cold with their minds set on securing their futures. 

Every year, IkamvaYouth anticipates its annual Winter School programme, an exciting period in our events calendar. We reserve two weeks during the June – July holidays, to provide academic and non-academic support to our learners. This year, Winter School kicked off on the 17th of June and all 17 branches across the country were fully armed to tackle education, youth-led style.

This year, 320 volunteers showed up nation-wide, all working hard and ultimately contributing over 300 tutoring hours across all branches. Part of the iconic two-week programme is to actively engage our learners in their studies by reflecting on some of the work they covered in their syllabus. This is done through peer learning, spearheaded by our learners as they highlight their learning gaps and we help mend a bridge of support. This pedagogical approach is held together by dedicated volunteer tutors (many of whom were previous learners, who have transformed from beneficiaries into benefactors). 

KwaZulu Natal 

In our Kwa Zulu-Natal branches, both the Umlazi, together with the Chesterville branch held a combined Winter School programme at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) with a total of 139 learners, each receiving an average of 18 hours of tutoring. In addition, the programme afforded our Grade 11 learners, a tour around the massive Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) plant, this visit was part of their career guidance workshop which comprised of talks by the CCBSA Coastal Regional Manager, as well various CCBSA departments. 

Western Cape 

The Western Cape Programme was a resounding success, with over 850 learners attending from Grades 8, right through to Grade 11. The region achieved an aggregate of 136 hours of tutoring for the seven winter school centres, namely; ID Mkhize, Gugulethu Comprehensive Secondary School, Kuyasa, Makhaza, Atlantis, Nyanga and Masiphumelele. The Western Cape impressively tallied 25 workshops across the region to supplement our holistic approach to peer-learning.

Gauteng and North West 

The Gauteng and North-West region had an impressive learner reach of 579 learners during this years’ Winter School across Grades 9 to 11. The Gauteng branched facilitated a total of 31 workshops and this included a mini Career Indaba, a Career Expo, and a Career Day panel discussion. The branches were able to achieve collective success, through collaborations and partnerships with key stakeholders, including; The National Treasury, Anglo American, University of the Witwatersrand, Women in Engineering, Pretoria Archeology Club, Thuto Bophelo Nursing Academy, ABSA Bank, Mustard Seed Foundation and Ntsakiso Youth Solutions. 

A highlight in the North-West was the Mahikeng branch receiving an award of ‘Excellence in Recognition of Stakeholders’ from the Department of Education’s Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC). This award was to recognise the contribution made by the organisation in the after-school space.

During the hustle and bustle of Winter School, we caught up with one of our exceptional tutors Zodumo who had the following to say “Being part of Winter School was a wonderful experience, especially playing a part in moulding the learners futures and helping these young people to overcome different challenges they have with their subjects. Winter School is a great opportunity for learners to identify their problem areas in various subjects and a platform for them to engage with each other and share creative learning methods. Our learners appreciate how they are involved in deciding the direction and the pace of our tutoring. More importantly, they appreciate being asked where they require assistance. This is why I am honoured to be a part of this organisation!” – Zodumo, tutor.

Eastern Cape 

Lastly, the Joza branch in the Eastern Cape had over 15 alumni returning to tutor, displaying the spirit of paying it forward. Tutors and stakeholders conducted different workshops.  Learners gained practical experience on digital storytelling; actively narrating stories, creating and forming stories using digital media. The branch also hosted a study skills workshop, which focused on the power of association, emotional intelligence, intelligence quota and adaptability quota. The learners were addressed by various motivational speakers, ranging from staff members to alumni and distinguished guests from the community, every morning. These talks were aimed at inspiring learners, delving much on the different qualities that motivate a person to succeed. This encouraged and motivated learners to endure and strive for better.

As a direct result of generous support from our donors, IkamvaYouth has been able to continue implementing an impactful Winter School programme aimed towards changing the trajectory of the lives of many young people. In addition, we would like to commend our dedicated team of excellent staff for reminding us how Winter School earned its reputation as “a time when the organisation displays unity and team spirit across the country, which is encouraging and points to resilience amidst challenges” stated Lerato, our Acting Gauteng and North-West District Manager. 

We would like to thank you all for the incredible commitment and support in making our programme possible!